Immigration Today and the RAISE Act

The White House recently introduced a new immigration bill, called the “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act,” or “RAISE Act.” The Bill proposes to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, limit the number of refugees allowed in to the U.S. every year to 50,000, and to reduce the number of visas available to extended family by 88,000, and instead focus on spouses and minor children only.

This Bill not only reduces the number of available visas, but it also narrows the definition of a child. Presently, a “child” is considered a child under 21. However, under the proposed RAISE Act, a child will be one under 18. So, if a parent wants to petition their “child” as an immediate relative, they would be limited to children under the age of 18. Any child over 18 would need to wait in a “longer line,” which would grow longer as the number of visas are decreasing. This will especially affect those that are from the four countries that have the “longest lines:” Philippines, China, Mexico, and India.

Another aspect of the RAISE Act is that it would modify the employment-based visas system, to be one that is more based on skills, and rewards those with education, have the ability to speak English, and have a higher salary being offered by the American employer. Of course, it would also reduce the number of unskilled labor entering the U.S. This modification would similarly negatively affect the four enumerated countries listed above.

Clearly, this type of change in our immigration system will be met with all types of skepticism, but also with praise. Proponents of the Bill believe that it will better our economy, raise our minimum wage level, decrease government spending on low-income benefits, and create jobs for U.S. citizens. Opponents vary on the reason, but in California especially, with all the tech jobs that are filled by foreign-born individuals, the Bill has gotten quite some push back. The Bill is also criticized to be racist, as it echoes some of the verbiage in the Chinese Exclusion Act. Some economists even argue that limiting would hurt our economy, not help.

Many are taking this tumultuous time to finally take their many years of residency, and apply to become a U.S. citizen, which is certainly not a surprise. Whether or not you are a proponent or opponent of this Bill, where this Bill goes and takes our nation will be interesting to see.