In the midst of Trump administration’s stance on immigration policies in the United States (US), an immigration reform bill has been introduced in the senate recently.
Rather than being rhetorical, the Act tries to take a practical approach to solving US immigration issues. Known as the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, its sponsors are two republicans, Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue.
For nearly 25 years, the US has welcomed an average of 1 million immigrants annually, roughly the size of the entire state of Montana. However, only one out of every 15 immigrants arriving in the country do so on a skill-based visa. The remaining are either low skilled or unskilled.
According to the RAISE Act, this influx of low skilled labor has been a major factor in the downward pressure on the wages of working class Americans. Wages for Americans with only high school diplomas have declined by 2 percent since the late 1970s. Likewise, for those without high school diplomas, wages have declined by nearly 20 percent.
This Act aims to resolve this issue by reducing immigration to the US by half. By rebalancing the system towards employment-based visas and immediate family household members, the Act will take the following immigration reform measures.
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Immigration Reform Highlights
Prioritize immediate family households:
The RAISE Act would retain immigration preferences for the spouses and minor children of permanent residents and US citizens. It would eliminate preferences for the extended and adult family members of US residents, including:
- Adult parents of US citizens
- Adult siblings of US citizens
- Unmarried adult children of US citizens
- Married adult children of US citizens
- Unmarried adult children of legal permanent residents
Create temporary visas for parents in need of care:
For US citizens, who wish to bring elderly parents into the country for medical purposes, the RAISE Act creates a renewable temporary visa. However, the parents cannot work or access public benefits and must be guaranteed support and health insurance by their sponsoring children.
Eliminate outdated diversity visa lottery:
According to the RAISE Act, the Diversity Visa Lottery is full of fraud and has no economic or humanitarian benefits. Hence, the Act will eliminate the 50,000 random visas allocated to this lottery each year.
Place a responsible limit on permanent residency for refugees:
Moreover, the Act will limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year.
Further, the RAISE Act aims to reduce overall immigration to the US by 41 percent in its first year of implementation and 50 percent by the 10th year. The proposal of this immigration reform bill is not surprising at all, given that the issues of middle-class decline and immigration policy reform dominated recent US presidential elections.
Thus, focusing more on skilled migration and eliminating lottery systems seem like positive steps forward for the US. However, we will have to wait and see whether the bill gets a nod of approval from the Senate.