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Trump, with GOP Senators, Unveils RAISE Act to further restrict immigration

This morning, Trump – joined by Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas David Perdue of Georgia, unveiled the “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy” (“RAISE”) which Cotton and Perdue plan to introduce in the Senate.

Per Senator Cotton, the ultimate goal would be to reduce inbound legal immigration to the US by half, from approximately one million annually now down to 500,000 over the course of the next ten years.

As importantly, the focus of those admitted would change, using a points-based system to admit more high-skilled workers (by percentage of that reduced 500,000, not in greater overall numbers), and reduce those coming to reunite with family members – currently almost two thirds of people legally immigrating to the US.

The points-based system would give preference to those with higher level degrees and experience, with English language skills, (and strangely, age - with those 26 to 30 years old most favored), etc. and apparently eliminate the current immigrant categories. Total employment-based immigration would be limited to 140,000 immigrant visas per year.

It would also cut the number of refugee admissions (those must vulnerable/at risk to their personal safety in their home countries) by half, and eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery entirely.

Among other things, this effort reminds us that the claims of nativists that “we believe in legal immigration, just not illegal – it’s a matter of respecting our laws!” are pretty hollow.

The RAISE Act, if passed, would mean a net decrease in the possibility of immigration for those who are willing to follow the law – and will likely ultimately lead to an increase in the undocumented population as people who want to escape harm or be with loved ones living in the US come anyway.

Remember, often efforts to target immigration legislatively end up having the exact opposite impact.