Today, much of the country is focused on the current humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. However, another crisis has been brewing in the United States for decades as the levels of low-skilled and unskilled immigration have risen, depressing American wages and displacing America’s most vulnerable workers.
To address this imbalance, Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) joined with a group of Representatives led by Representative Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) to reintroduce the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. If passed, this legislation—previously supported by both FAIR and the Trump administration— would finally bring the U.S. legal immigration system into the 21st century.
Unfortunately, our current legal immigration system does not prioritize immigrants based on skills or abilities. To address this imbalance, the RAISE Act would implement a skills-based system in which applicants can earn points based on education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative. Merit based systems are already used in nations around the world, including: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
In addition to implementing a thorough skill-based system, the RAISE Act makes several other valuable changes to our immigration system. First, the legislation will eliminate the diversity visa lottery, which is plagued with fraud, advances no economic or humanitarian interests, and ultimately does not even promote diversity. Additionally, it will prioritize the nuclear family by giving preference to spouses and minor child.
Furthermore, the bill creates a temporary, renewable visa for American citizens that wish to bring foreign, elderly parents to the United States for caretaking purposes. Finally, the RAISE Act will limit permanent residency to 50,000 refugees per year— a cap chosen based on average numbers for over the past decade.
The bill’s sponsors released the follow statements upon introduction:
“I’m proud to reintroduce the RAISE Act supported by the White House. For decades, our immigration system has been completely divorced from the needs of our country and has harmed the livelihoods of working-class Americans. The RAISE Act would build an immigration system that increases working-class wages, creates jobs, and gives every citizen a fair shot at achieving the American Dream, no matter whether their family came over on the Mayflower or just took the Oath of Allegiance,” said Cotton.
“Our current immigration system is broken and is not meeting the needs of our growing economy. If we want to continue to be the global economic leader, we have to welcome the best and brightest from around the world who wish to come to the United States legally to work and make a better life for themselves. This will require a skills-based immigration system that is pro-growth and pro-worker. The RAISE Act is proven to work and is still the only plan that responds to the needs of our economy, while preserving quality jobs and wages for American workers,” said Purdue.
“We need an immigration system that puts American workers first. Our broken immigration policies hurt hardworking Americans and the talented individuals who are stuck in line, waiting to contribute to our country. With the RAISE Act, the United States can finally end chain migration and move to a merit-based system. All Americans deserve rising wages, a growing economy, and an equal shot at the American Dream,” said Hawley.
“The United States immigration system is broken. Only one in every 15 immigrants to our country are granted visas because of their skills, and we do not prioritize the ultra-high-skilled immigrants who spur innovation, create jobs, and make America more competitive. The system we have now supports programs like the Diversity Visa Lottery, which does not add skills or competitive workers to our workplace, and “chain migration,” whereby once a person enters, their family relations can automatically come to the U.S. regardless of their employability… Passing this legislation, along with legislation that I have cosponsored to fix the asylum-seeking process and mandate e-verify, will provide significantly better immigration policy and greater control of our borders,” said Congressman Rooney.
Dan Stein, president of FAIR applauded this year’s proposal. “The RAISE Act would ensure that immigration levels – which currently operate in a vacuum and are unaffected by the unemployment level or the economic needs of the country – would finally begin to serve the national interest. It’s clearly time for this nation to jettison the failed policies of the past and embrace a new paradigm that will do a much better job of selecting immigrants who arrive with the skills they need to make this nation better, while also benefitting themselves and their immediate families.
“Any legal immigration reform plan that deviates from the RAISE framework would betray several of President Trump’s key campaign promises — one of which was reducing overall immigration levels. The White House supported the bill last Congress and they should support it again.”