RAISE Act: Thumbs Down
The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act ("RAISE") Act - introduced by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, with the support of President Trump - would eliminate the immigration system that we know today and replace it with a points-based system that ignores the benefits of family unity and the needs of U.S. employers.
The RAISE Act is an attack on legal immigration that would slash the number of immigrants the U.S. welcomes each year without a reasonable correlation to family reunification or the economic needs of our nation. Our country needs a strong immigration system that recognizes the value of families and the needs of U.S. businesses. This bill fails to recognize that strong families contribute to the economy and operates on the false assumption that legal immigration harms our economy.
The RAISE Act is contrary to our nation's ethos, which recognizes the value of keeping families together to create a stronger nation. This Act would force close family members to live apart, likely for their entire lives. The bill would eliminate ALL family-based legal immigration categories except for spouses and children (under the age of 18) of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. This means, for example, that adult U.S. citizen children would be denied the opportunity to permanently sponsor their parents, a direct attack on the rights of U.S. citizens. The temporary visa proposed by this bill for parents of U.S. citizens is simply not enough. Family-based immigration has a positive impact on business development and community improvement by creating strong communities which foster an environment for the development of local businesses. Family-based immigrants also fuel innovation. More than half of new companies in Silicon Valley were started by immigrants, many of whom came to the country on family-based visas. Eliminating immigration categories for extended family and grown adult family members is unfair to those who have already followed the rules and applied for an immigrant visa in one of the eliminated categories. The Act's very narrow grandfather period is not enough and would unfairly penalize thousands of family-based immigrants who have been patiently waiting for years in a visa backlog to reunite with their family in the U.S.
A points-based system that fails to adequately take into consideration the needs of U.S. employers will not make our economy stronger. If U.S. companies cannot access the workers they need to grow and thrive in the United States, they will turn to other options, such as expanding operations outside the United States. A points-based system would be an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into U.S. businesses' decisions on the type of talent they need to fit their business needs. U.S. businesses best understand their business demands and the kinds of workers they need to grow and prosper and should, therefore, have a direct role to play in selecting the workers they need. By establishing a narrowly-focused and rigid points-based system that ignores considerations like one's field of work and special skills, the RAISE Act is harmful to many immigrants that make important contributions to American society. For example, the points-based system may disadvantage people like young graduates from U.S. universities entering the workforce for the first time, seasonal workers filling vital gaps in our economy, and artists and entertainers that contribute to our country's cultural diversity. The RAISE Act would remove lower-skilled immigrants from the U.S. immigration system. These immigrants contribute positively to the U.S. economy; there is no valid economic argument to make such a dramatic cut to the number of low-skilled immigrants. Some of the key problems with a points-based system are illustrated by the experience of Canada. High-skilled immigrants who are admitted because of their education and work experience and without a job offer have no guarantee of finding a job in their field. This forces many high-skilled immigrants to take low-skilled jobs, often in fields outside their area of expertise. By switching the employment-based visa program to a points-based system, the RAISE Act unfairly eliminates key immigrant visa programs, such as the EB-5 immigrant investor program, the special immigrant religious workers program, and the physician national interest waiver green card program. These are all important visa programs which have a vital place in our immigration system and benefit our local communities and our nation's economy.
Notably, the RAISE Act fails to increase the number of employment-based green cards at a time when our nation is competing on a global scale to attract the world's talent and skills to the U.S. The Act provides no viable solution to the backlog, and it would unfairly penalize immigrants sponsored by American businesses that have been patiently waiting in line for a green card for years. This is a broken promise to American employers and to immigrants that have made significant contributions to our economy.
Reducing the number of refugees who can be admitted each year to 50,000 runs contrary to our nation's proud tradition as serving as a beacon of hope for people fleeing from violence and persecution.
By eliminating the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, the RAISE Act would also reduce immigration from Africa, Asia, and other countries. We are a country that recognizes the value of diversity, not one that denies opportunities based on national origin.
Contrary to misleading statements, low-income non-citizen adults and children actually use public benefits less than native-born adults or citizen children with citizen parents. Additionally, economic studies have found that immigrants pay more into the system than take out. - AILA Doc. No. 17080234
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