More than half a century after the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, and 30 years after the Immigration Reform and Control Act, U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R- AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced a sensible merit-based bill that will help all Americans.
The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or RAISE Act, proposes to cut legal immigration roughly in half from one million new arrivals annually to about 500,000, and would screen them on a points-based system similar to Canada and Australia for skills, education and English language ability. In the process, the RAISE Act would mostly eliminate the haphazard chain migration system that allows family members to petition their adult siblings, adult sons and adult daughters, who in turn can bring their own relatives, and create an endless incoming immigrant stream.
Under the RAISE Act, only nuclear family members could be admitted. In addition to tightening up immigration entry standards, the proposed legislation would eliminate the outdated and pointless Diversity Visa lottery – the random admission of 50,000 immigrants – and mandate a maximum refugee resettlement total of 50,000 per year, instead of allowing the president to decide what cap, if any, should be imposed.
Those are the RAISE Act’s bare bones, but the proposed legislation represents a much-needed boost to unemployed, underemployed and employed Americans whose wages have been frozen for years. Referencing studies from Harvard and Princeton, Cotton and Perdue say legal immigration would be cut by RAISE in the first year by 41 percent – from roughly 1.1 million to 637,960 – and to 539,958 by the tenth year, for a 50 percent decline. And the resulting tighter labor market would mean that more Americans would fill jobs and that wages would rise, the indisputable effects of supply and demand economics.
In his opening statements which he delivered from the White House, President Trump said that the current immigration policy has placed “substantial pressure on American workers, taxpayers and community resources,” and, most importantly, is unfair to minority workers who compete for jobs with recently arrived immigrants. The RAISE Act would, said President Trump, put American families first.
Congressional Democrats, the media and advocacy groups quickly went on attack mode. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) charged President Trump with pursuing a hateful, senseless anti-immigrant agenda. CNN reporter Jim Acosta charged that RAISE isn’t in keeping with Statue of Liberty values. And ITI, a technology industry trade group, claimed that the bill would impede Silicon Valley’s ability to compete globally – false, predictable, knee-jerk statements that don’t stand up to rational thought. The truth is that after more than 50 years of immigration continuing on autopilot, and regardless of 9/11, recessions, mortgage meltdowns or soaring city and state populations, a congressional debate is very overdue.
The RAISE Act faces a considerable, and possibly insurmountable, Senate challenge. But at a minimum, it will spark a debate that might cause many entrenched pro-immigration legislators to reconsider.
People often ask me how long I’ve been covering immigration. I tell them I can answer in two ways. First, I’ve been on the immigration beat for 31 years, or, second, I’ve been writing about immigration long enough that more than 25 million legal, work-authorized immigrants have been admitted.
An immigration slow-down, the RAISE Act’s key objective, benefits all Americans.