Administration Champions Bill Sharply Restricting Immigration

  • The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, S. 1720.

The administration announced its support for the RAISE Act, S. 1720.   Introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue and backed by President Trump, this bill would slash the overall number of immigrants to the U.S., chiefly by gutting immediate family immigration.   It would immediately reduce the total number of immediate family immigrants allowed each year by more than 40% from current levels, and eliminate most categories of family members presently eligible (including children who have have already turned 18, and parents, married children, and siblings of U.S. citizens). It would also eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery, and cap the number of refugees allowed in each year at 50,000.

The bill would create a new “points” system for employment-based immigration. Individuals with English fluency, post-graduate degrees in STEM or professional fields, younger workers, and those with high paying job offers or independent wealth to invest in the U.S. would be given the highest priority, although special points would also favor Nobel Laureates and Olympic individual medalists or other world class athletes.  Under the proposed points system, total employment-based visas would be capped at 140,000 annually, which is fewer than the number granted for each of the three most recent fiscal years for which there is complete data.

While the bill’s sponsors state it will strengthen our nation’s economy, there is broad opposition to that view from economists, business leaders, academics and others, including members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.  A small sampling of the early reaction to the RAISE Act:

The Bipartisan Policy Center

The Cato Institute:  here and here

The Council on Foreign Relations

New American Economy

Susan Martin, former Executive Director of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform

Various economists quoted in this Eduardo Porter piece in the NYTimes