August 03, 2017

Trump, Senate Move To Cut Legal Immigration

The RAISE Act would turn away 500,000 legal immigrants yearly

by Chris Thomas

President Donald Trump campaigned on an anti-immigration platform but most of that platform focused upon the issue of undocumented immigrants — people who enter the United States illegally. S.354, the “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act,” targets not illegal but legal immigration and would cut the number of legal immigrants to the United States by some 500,000 yearly, paring back immigration to a level not seen since the mid 1980s.

Graph via The Federalist

Notably, among those reductions, the bill would end the Diversity Visa Program, which grants 50,000 green cards yearly to immigrants from countries with low rates of US immigration, reduce the number and types of “family sponsored immigrants,” and cap the number of refugees offered green cards.

Why this matters

Supporters of the bill contend that curbing immigration “would promote higher wages on which all working Americans” while shifting the prioritization of the American immigration system to emphasize “language skills, education and work experience” rather than “reuniting extended families and low-skilled labor.”

Opponents see the bill as racist, citing the 0.3% acceptance rate of the Diversity Visa Program as evidence that it brings among the best and hardest working people possible to American shores. The conservative Cato institute further contends that, far from boosting American wages, cuts to legal immigration only serve to drive automation, leaving wages flat and contributing to the overall reduction in jobs for unskilled laborers.

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Who to talk to

The RAISE Act’s major hurdle to passage will be the Senate’s filibuster. Republicans will need the aid of at least a few Democrats to reach the 60 votes necessary to clear the upper chamber. At present, however, the bill is before the Senate Judiciary committee and the members there will determine its immediate future.

  • Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
  • Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
  • Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)
  • John Cornyn (R-Texas)
  • Mike Lee (R-Utah)
  • Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
  • Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska)
  • Jeff Flake (R-Arizona)
  • Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
  • Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina)
  • John Neely Kennedy (R-Louisiana)
  • Dianne Feinstein (D-California)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont)
  • Dick Durbin (D-Illinois)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island)
  • Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)
  • Al Franken (D-Minnesota)
  • Chris Coons (D-Delaware)
  • Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut)
  • Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)

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Senators should oppose RAISE Act

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