A bill proposed by GOP Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia could completely change the way the US issues green cards.
The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or RAISE Act, would replace the current employment visa system, which relies on businesses to hire immigrants, with a merit-based system that gives the feds a larger role in choosing applicants.
“Our current system does not work,” says Perdue. “It keeps America from being competitive and it does not meet the needs of our economy today.”
The US issues hundreds of thousands of green cards each year, with 66% going to immediate relatives of US citizens, 15% going to employment-based applicants, 15% going to refugees, and the rest to winners of a visa lottery established in 1990.
The RAISE Act would abolish the lottery and limit permanent residence status for refugees to 50,000 per year. According to projections, it would cut the number of legal immigrants in half by its tenth year.
The RAISE Act will “reduce poverty, increase wages, and will save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars,” said Trump. “It will do this by changing the way the United States issues green cards to nationals from other countries.”
The RAISE Act prioritizes immigrants with the following:
• English-language skills
• Desirable job skills
• Financial independence
• High-paying job offers
• Entrepreneurial initiative
The bill also prioritizes immediate family members like spouses and young children but does not prioritize extended family members and children over the age of 18.
The RAISE Act “ends chain migration and replaces our low-skilled system with a new points-based system for receiving a green card,” said Trump. “This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first.”
Critics argue that that the RAISE Act would undermine the fundamental vision of the US as a haven for immigrants, while the Trump Administration insists that we have taken in more low-skilled immigrants than the economy can accommodate.
“This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens,” said Trump.
As you can expect, Democrats aren’t happy with the proposal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi calls the bill part of a “hateful, senseless, anti-immigrant agenda.”
Immigrant rights groups insist the bill caters to “white nationalists.” Business groups are also against the bill, insisting that the country needs cheap labor to keep pace with the global economy.
Editor’s note: I’m not sure this will be good as a long term measure, but I can see it as part of a strategy where immigration is restricted and the President has that ability to grant exceptions. This would be a back door to Trump’s ban on potential radicals.