What is the RAISE Act?: The Quick and Dirty on Trump’s New Immigration Bill

On August 2, 2017, Trump unveiled a new bill related to immigration, the Reforming AmericanImmigration for a Stronger Economy (RAISE) Act. The RAISE Act, introduced by Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue and endorsed by Trump, is what Trump believes will “protect U.S. workers and taxpayers”. The effect of the RAISE Act would be to significantly reduce legal immigration to the U.S. by creating a merits-based immigration system that favors those who are English speaking, skilled, and financially secure.

SIGNIFICANT CHANGES UNDER THE RAISE ACT

1.     Creates a points-based system to be eligible for lawful permanent residence (or “green card”);

2.     Cuts new immigration in half;

3.     Eliminates the Visa Lottery Program;

4.     Restricting U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents to sponsoring only spouses and minor children; and

5.     Reduces the number refugees admitted to the U.S. to only 50,000 from 110,000.

This type of legislation isn’t anywhere near what proponents of immigration reform had in mind. It is no secret that our immigration system is and has been dysfunctional for centuries. Starting with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1790, which limited naturalization to free, white persons of good character, to now, a time when the RAISE act is being introduced, there have been countless racist policies that have affected immigrants of color.

 

EFFECTS OF THESE CHANGES

As many have pointed out, the RAISE Act favors applicants with privilege. Preferring highly-skilled, English-speaking immigrants, who can financially support themselves puts many immigrants of color at a major disadvantage. The United States will choose immigrants from countries that already speak English, like Canada and the United Kingdom,  over immigrants from various other non-English speaking countries. Immigrants from economically unstable countries would be ineligible for immigration over their wealthier counterparts because they may not be able to prove that they could financially support themselves.

What’s more, this new system negatively affects our economy. Though they make up only 13.5% of the U.S. population, immigrant entrepreneurs now account for 27.5% of all new entrepreneurs in America. Small businesses help our economy significantly. Many of those people will be ineligible to immigrate under the proposed point system. Lacking English fluency and a fancy degree does not mean that an immigrant cannot bring value to our country and its economy. 

Additionally, The RAISE Act will have substantial effects on family immigration. By cutting legal immigration in half, many of the current categories for family-based immigration will be eliminated. This bill will separate immigrant families permanently. This goes against our long standing principle of family unity and the value of keeping families together.  

In his press conference about the Act, Trump states that “newcomers will be assimilated.” This tells me that he only welcomes educated, skilled, rich, white immigrants, who can easily assimilate as Americans. In my opinion, this constant talk about “protecting the working class” is a just a guise for Trump’s hatred for other cultures and xenophobic ideals. 

If this bill is passed, many will be affected. Find out what can be done for you before it’s too late. 

Call us at 914-719-7570 to find out your options