Dysfunctional Family: America’s Broken Immigration System



Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has a stunning statistic: 94 percent of immigrants admitted to the United States over the last 50 years came for reasons that have nothing to do with employment.

“While two-thirds of green cards go to relatives of people here, highly talented immigrants wait in line for years behind applicants whose only claim to naturalization is a random family connection to someone who happened to get here years ago,” says Cotton, an Arkansas Republican.

Welcome to America’s broken immigration system.

Through unlimited chain migration and a global “diversity lottery,” nearly a million people are annually ushered into this country, many of whom have few skills and rudimentary education. These ill-prepared newcomers can do little other than compete with the lowest skilled American workers, depressing their wages.

Anticipating the results we’re seeing today, James Madison declared in 1790 that U.S. immigration law must not be designed “merely to swell the catalogue of people. No, sir, it is to increase the wealth and strength of the community.”

Contrary to what our cosmopolitan elites and their political tools have cobbled together over the past half-century, a functional immigration system would serve the national interest here and now. That’s what Cotton and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., aim to do with their RAISE Act.

RAISE – Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy – would create a skills-based point system similar to Canada’s and Australia’s. Cotton explains:

When people apply to immigrate, they would get an easy-to-calculate score, on a scale of 0-to-100, based on their education, age, job salary, investment ability, English-language skills and any extraordinary achievements.

Twice annually, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would invite the top scorers to complete their applications, and green-light enough high-scoring applicants to fill the current 140,000 annual employed-based green-card slots.

No more chain migration for extended family. No more diversity lottery for random applicants. No more fraudulent gaming of the system. No more arbitrary national caps shutting out top-skilled applicants simply because of their country of origin.

Contrast these commonsense reforms with the current U.S. family chain immigration system. As Cotton notes the objective of our policy ought to be to attract immigrants who are “better prepared, as a general matter, to integrate and assimilate into the American way of life.”

Call Cotton politically incorrect, but kneejerk rhetoric won’t change the facts or fix a system that every objective observer – left, right and center — acknowledges is grossly dysfunctional. It’s past time for a merit-based immigration policy that promotes fairness and identifiable nationals interests.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)’s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

7 Comments

  1. avatar

    Sorry to tell you that CHAIN MIGRATION is going nowhere….FAMILIES TOGETHER CREATE STRONG NATIONS…of course, you might think otherwise if you come from a dysfunctional family or if you have a bad relationship with your parents. MERIT BASED SYSTEM? Ain’t nobody tell you one of the BIGGEST Merits or Accomplishment that a parent can do? That of raising GREAT kids, GREAT citizens…I don’t know about you but my father doesn’t have to be a NOBEL PRIZE WINNER for me to respect him, for him to have one of the HIGHEST MERITS in the world…RAISING children and keeping them off drugs, crime and violence…not everything is measured in MONEY…FAMILY VALUES are priceless. Remember that.

    • avatar

      Mike, I don’t think anyone would dispute that families together are of great importance. Yet, you miss the whole point here, which has to do with the health and future of our nation. The importance of good families aside, that in no way means that this nation is obligated to import every relative just because one person has chosen, and accepted, to emigrate here. Why would you think we should take in 50 additional foreigners just because we agreed to take in a man, wife, 2 young children?? What gives them the right to expect us to take in all grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc? Does a nation have no right to draw the line on immigration based on its best interests?? Your argument is a foolish one.

      • avatar

        His argument is typical. He’s the more the merrier type when it comes to immigration. He sees no limits or possible negatives. His type doesn’t worry about the welfare of American families.

  2. avatar

    There should be zero legal until all people that are citizens or here legally can get workillegal immigration should never be tolerated.

  3. avatar

    RAISE BILL, 2017
    —HOW IT WOULD CHANGE IMMIGRATION

    The RAISE bill is a serious effort at immigration reform.
    It would fundamentally change immigration into the USA.
    Here are the major changes proposed:

    1. END CHAIN-MIGRATION
    Existing immigration laws and practices
    favor admitting immigrants who have family connections.
    This bill would limit the ‘family’ to spouse and minor children.

    2. END GREEN-CARD LOTTERY
    Present law gives out 50,000 green cards at random
    to applicants from countries under-represented in the USA.

    3. END COUNTRY CAPS
    Present law sets limits for immigrants from each country.
    These were arbitrary and often far too low for large countries.
    Such limits are reached almost immediately for some countries
    when a new year begins.
    This bill would eliminate all such country limits.

    4. REFUGEES LIMITED TO 50,000 PER YEAR
    Recently the limit has been 110,000 per year.
    Over 200,000 claims for asylum are under review.
    This bill would radically cut back
    on the number of permanent refugees
    admitted to America each year.

    5. NEW GREEN CARDS REDUCED BY HALF
    The number of people
    becoming Lawful Permanent Residents each year
    would be reduced from the present 1 million per year
    to 500,000 per year.

    Most new green cards are issued
    to foreign nationals who have been in the USA for some years.
    If the number of new Lawful Permanent Residents
    is reduced to just 500,000 per year,
    this might mean the END to ALL immigrant visas.
    New immigrants would have to be admitted
    on non-immigrant visas for work or study.
    And later they would apply for green cards.
    This internal contradiction would have to be resolved
    before any such new law could become effective.
    The rest of the bill does not presuppose
    that ALL new immigration from overseas
    would come to an end.

    6. EMPLOYER-SPONSORED GREEN CARDS
    WOULD BE REPLACED BY A POINT SYSTEM
    At present 140,000 green cards
    are issued each year to foreigners living abroad
    based on job offers from American employers.
    But this system would be replaced by
    the same number of visas issued each year
    to immigrants selected by a new point system.

    Each of the following factors
    is assigned a certain number of points:
    AGE, EDUCATION, ENGLISH PROFICIENCY,
    JOB OFFER, AWARDS, & INVESTMENTS.

    The spouse of the would-be immigrant
    is also given a number of points
    based on these same factors.

    The RAISE bill would have the over-all impact
    of REDUCING authorized immigration
    and focusing on MERIT rather than FAMILY.
    Each of its provisions is worthy of careful discussion.

    Details about the RAISE bill will be found here:
    https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/raise-act

    Readers interested in the details of immigration reform
    might want to read another (similar) proposal:
    “Ideal Immigrants: Criteria for Selecting New Americans”:
    https://s3.amazonaws.com/aws-website-jamesleonardpark—freelibrary-3puxk/CY-IDEAL.html

  4. avatar

    Some on the left insist that Republicans in the past have been highly supportive of mass Immigration. Not true. The immigration act of 1924 that restricted immigration after a wave of foreigners in the previous fifteen years was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a conservative Republican president, Calvin Coolidge.

    That act was also heavily lobbied for by Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor. He flat out stated that mass immigration was favored by big business who wanted a never ending flow of foreign workers to keep wages low. In other words, he supported what was best for American workers, unlike the turncoat labor “leaders” of today. If mass immigration was good for the middle and working classes, their share of the economic pie would have increased instead of declining drastically in the last twenty years, to the benefit of the top one percent.