Bill To Cut Immigration By Half Faces Stiff Opposition
By Reuben Seguritan
The RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy) Act which plans to cut immigration by half has encountered stiff opposition from lawmakers, immigration lawyers and immigrant advocates.
Among the senators who have come out against the bill are Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio and Democratic Senators Charles Schumer, Diane Feinstein and Jeanne Shaheen.
The RAISE Act which was recently introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdeu would slash legal immigration by 40% in its first year and 50% in its tenth year. It proposes to eliminate all family-based legal immigration categories except for spouses and children (under the age of 18) of US citizens and permanent residents. Parents of US citizens will no longer be eligible to apply for green card.
Thousands of family-based immigrants such as siblings and adult children who have been waiting for visa numbers for as long as over 20 years would be penalized. The bill also proposes a merit-based system in determining who will be admitted to the country based on skills, education, English language ability and entrepreneurial initiative.
President Donald Trump supports the legislation saying “the bill will demonstrate compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first.”
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) also applauds the act saying that this will serve the business sector in need of more skilled workers.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has expressed its strong opposition to the bill saying it is “an attack on legal immigration that would slash the number of immigrants without a reasonable correlation to family reunification or the economic needs of the nation”. AILA says the new bill is contrary to the nation’s ethos, which recognizes the value of keeping families together to create a stronger nation. The group wants to emphasize that contrary to what the bill is espousing, family-based immigration has a positive impact on business development. “More than half of new businesses in Silicon Valley were started by immigrants, many of whom came to the US on family-based visas.”
The Information Technology Industry Council which represents companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft has denounced the bill as “not the right proposal to fix our immigration system”.
A 2011 study by Partnership for a New American Economy has shown that more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Companies like Amazon, Ebay, Kraft, Pfizer, Panda Express, IBM, Yahoo, and Tesla are among several companies built by people who were born outside the US.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said this would be devastating to our state’s economy. “If this proposal were to become a law, it would put hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers in peril.” Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) also echoes the same sentiment. In her statement, she said “in California, this would mean farm workers who have worked in the country for years would be permanently ineligible to apply for a green card.” House Speaker Paul Ryan also thinks that cutting legal migration would result in labor shortages especially since baby boomers are already retiring.
Other salient points of RAISE Act are the reduction of refugees allowed in the US to 50,000 per annum and the elimination of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program which awards 50,000 green cards per annum to people from countries with low rates of US immigration.
Critics noted how this is contrary to the country’s proud tradition of serving as a beacon of hope for people fleeing violence and persecution. Doing away with the Diversity Program would also result in the reduction of immigrants from Africa, Asia and other countries.