Trump backs bill to cut legal immigration, slash green card issues

Violet Powell
August 3, 2017

David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas will reintroduce an updated version of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, a bill they originally proposed in February that failed to gain traction in the Senate.

"This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy", Trump said while introducing the bill. The vast majority of Asian immigrants have come to the USA through the family-based immigration system, and many Asian immigrants that come on employment-based visas also use the family-based system to reunite with family members.

"Hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers will tell you this proposal - to cut legal immigration in half - would put their businesses in peril", he said in a statement.

Trump has previously said he wants people to come in on merit, but also rebuffed the idea that he wants to reduce legal immigration.

"Restricting family members from joining their families in the U.S. will make it harder for them to become fully American", the National Immigration Forum's executive director Ali Noorani said in a statement. The chart below from Deutsche Bank economist Torsten Slok shows just how misguided a more restrictive immigration policy would be from a purely demographic perspective - just imagine the long-run hit to growth. Tom Cotton and fellow Republican Sen.

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On top of expected Democratic opposition, some Republican senators have expressed skepticism abut cutting legal immigration levels.

Cotton is equally if not more voluble than Trump against "low-skilled" migration and its effects on working class families and their wages - which has nothing to do with business class travellers who are unscathed by immigration.

Don't be misled by the name of this Trumpian push - RAISE Act is not yet an Act, it is still a Bill and hundreds of such Bills get introduced in the US Congress every year. Trump problematically referred to this as a "merit-based" system on Wednesday. "The net effect will be to slash legal immigration by 50 percent by eliminating multiple categories of legal immigrants, a policy that will disproportionately hurt Asian American U.S. citizens who want to sponsor their loved ones; by capping refugee admissions so that refugees, many of whom are Muslim, are left stranded in camps with nowhere to go; and by eliminating the diversity program, which will hurt Africans and Caribbean immigrants who have few other opportunities to immigrate to America". "If this proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state's economy which relies on this immigrant workforce", Graham said on Wednesday.

The bill faces an uphill climb in the Senate, however. "The reason we need to do this is very simple: Our current system does not work".

"Over the last 40 years we've seen a huge increase in immigration", Cotton said at the time, arguing that the current amount is out of line with "historical" levels.

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