Saying that the United States immigration system “has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers,” President Trump expressed his support on Wednesday for a revised bill co-sponsored by Republican senators Tom Cotton (AK) and David Perdue (GA) that would limit immigration levels.
“For decades, the United States was operated and has operated a very low-skilled immigration system, issuing record numbers of green cards to low-wage immigrants,” Trump said Wednesday at the White House. “This policy has placed substantial pressure on American workers, taxpayers and community resources. Among those hit the hardest in recent years have been immigrants and, very importantly, minority workers competing for jobs against brand-new arrivals. And it has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers.”
Cotton and Perdue, who both spoke after Trump’s comments, are the co-sponsors of a revised Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. According to a release from Cotton’s office, the RAISE Act would try to accomplish four things:
“Establish a Skills-Based Points System. The RAISE Act would replace the current permanent employment-visa system with a skills-based points system, akin to the systems used by Canada and Australia. The system would prioritize those immigrants who are best positioned to succeed in the United States and expand the economy. Applicants earn points based on education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative.
Prioritize Immediate Family Households. The RAISE Act would retain immigration preferences for the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents while eliminating preferences for certain categories of extended and adult family members.
Eliminate the Outdated Diversity Visa Lottery. The Diversity Lottery is plagued with fraud, advances no economic or humanitarian interest, and does not even promote diversity. The RAISE Act would eliminate the 50,000 visas arbitrarily allocated to this lottery.
Place a Responsible Limit on Permanent Residency for Refugees. The RAISE Act would limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year, in line with a 13-year average.”
During his White House remarks, Trump said that he “campaigned on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects U.S. workers and taxpayers,” a campaign platform that followed the agenda from limited-immigration groups such as NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies. The NumbersUSA site is already greeting web visitors with the following banner text: “President Trump endorses the RAISE Act introduced by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. The bill would reduce immigration by 50% and put American workers first. CLICK HERE to urge your Senators to support the bill.”
As expected, Democrats have already slammed the legislation.
“Donald Trump and Mike Pence keep pushing their anti-immigrant agenda, and now they’re seeking to deny millions the American Dream by dramatically cutting legal immigration and limiting family reunification. Instead of catching criminals, Trump wants to tear apart communities and punish immigrant families that are making valuable contributions to our economy,” Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said in a statement.
“That’s not what America stands for. We need comprehensive immigration reform that tackles the real issues with our immigration system and reflects the views of the vast majority of Americans who favor a legal path to citizenship for those already in our country,” Perez added. “But this bill isn’t just an affront to our values, it’s also a threat to our economy. Study after study has shown that punishing immigrant families and curbing immigration would only stifle America’s economic growth and limit our nation’s potential. That means a less prosperous economy for all Americans. Democrats believe our diversity is our biggest strength, and we will continue to stand with the immigrant communities that enrich our country every day.”
Data about immigrants’ contribution to the U.S. economy is readily available and according to recent statistics, immigrants are more likely to own a business or start a business that their native-born counterparts. A recent survey concluded that “immigrants earned $1.3 trillion and contributed $105 billion in state and local taxes and nearly $224 billion in federal taxes in 2014.” The same survey said that “in 2014 immigrants had almost $927 billion in consumer spending power.” Furthermore, according to ABC News, “immigrants make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, they contribute nearly 15 percent of the country’s economic output.”
This is the copy of the full RAISE Act bill:
Later on Wednesday, the White House press briefing focused on the RAISE Act: