President Donald Trump backed a Senate bill Wednesday that will revamp the American immigration system for the first time in over half a century.
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Georgia Sen. David Perdue are introducing a revised RAISE Act that would end family chain-migration and introduce a merit-based system of immigration. Just one of of every 15 immigrants comes to the U.S. because of skills. The current chain-migration system allows people to gain permanent residency (green cards) due to having relatives in the U.S.
The RAISE Act will reduce overall immigration numbers. The two senators said that the bill would cut overall immigration by around 50 percent after ten years, from 1 million new immigrants a year to roughly 500,000. The act will also limit refugee entry to 50,000 admissions annually. The Obama administration sought to resettle 110,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017.
Sen. Perdue said that the legislation represents a “sweeping change for America.” The last major American immigration reform was in 1965 when immigration quotas were ended.
President Trump has previously called for a merit-based immigration system. He said on February 28: “Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers and puts great pressure on our taxpayers.”
Sen. Cotton said at a White House event that the “vast majority don’t come here” because of “job skills” or “English skills.” The RAISE Act will have a points-based system that will favor immigrants with advanced education and a job offer that has a higher pay than the median wage in the community. The point of this new system is to ensure that immigrants coming to the U.S. will not hurt low-skilled workers.