President Trump introduced what supporters say is the most significant overhaul in the American immigration system in 50 years Wednesday.
“This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens,” President Trump said. “This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first.”
Dubbed the RAISE Act, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act promises to spur economic growth and raise working Americans’ wages by giving priority to the best-skilled immigrants from around the world and reducing overall immigration by half.
For decades, the United States’ immigration system has favored no- and low-skill labor with very little standards on new arrivals’ ability or desire to assimilate and succeed, which has effectively depressed entry-level wages and stretched the American social safety net to its breaking point.
Shockingly, of the 1.1 million immigrants legally entering the country each year – the entire populations of Nashville, TN and Oakland, CA combined – more than 50 percent of receive welfare benefits, compared to only 30 percent of native households in the United States that receive welfare benefits.
The RAISE Act signals a significant pivot towards favoring high-skilled English speakers who can demonstrate a willingness and ability to support themselves here.
A joint statement released by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) outlines the four main policy objectives of the bill:
Establish a Skills-Based Points System. The RAISE Act would replace the current permanent employment-visa system with a skills-based points system, akin to the systems used by Canada and Australia. The system would prioritize those immigrants who are best positioned to succeed in the United States and expand the economy. Applicants earn points based on education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative.
Prioritize Immediate Family Households. The RAISE Act would retain immigration preferences for the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents while eliminating preferences for certain categories of extended and adult family members.
Eliminate the Outdated Diversity Visa Lottery. The Diversity Lottery is plagued with fraud, advances no economic or humanitarian interest, and does not even promote diversity. The RAISE Act would eliminate the 50,000 visas arbitrarily allocated to this lottery.
Place a Responsible Limit on Permanent Residency for Refugees. The RAISE Act would limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year, in line with a 13-year average.
As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to reform the immigration system in a way that would put American citizens first. The RAISE Act – if it does what it promises to do – is an important step in fulfilling that commitment to the American people.
Watch the announcement:
Read the full text of the bill: