An immigration reform bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this month. Normally, that would be an event with about as much news value as the sun rising in the east.
But there is something different about the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.). The bill actually lays down some clear public interest objectives for U.S. immigration policy and recognizes the American people as the primary stakeholders in their nation’s immigration policy.
For decades, U.S. immigration policy has had no definable public interest goal. What differentiates the RAISE Act is that it tilts the immigration system toward a selection process that better balances immediate family-based immigration and employment-based immigration. Immigrants selected for their job skills currently comprise only about 6 percent of the current immigrant flow. Significantly reducing overall immigration and eliminating preferences for extended family members would ensure that those selected to come to the U.S. would be more likely to succeed, and would complement, rather than compete with, American workers.
The RAISE Act reflects the recommendations of a bipartisan commission that reviewed every aspect of U.S. immigration policy. That commission, chaired by the late civil rights leader and Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan, issued its final report 20 years ago. The commission’s blueprint for immigration reform was endorsed by President Bill Clinton and by congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.
The core recommendations of the Jordan Commission included ending extended family chain migration and shifting the selection criteria to favor people who possess skills that are most beneficial to the country. Read the rest of FAIR President Dan Stein’s op-ed here.