New Anti-Legal Immigrant Bill’s Bizarre Details

With President Trump’s backing, Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the RAISE Act, which would reduce legal immigration by 50 percent over 10 years. See here, here, here, and here for our earlier commentary about why this goal makes little sense and the justifications for it are spurious. But how it would achieve this goal is also revealing.

  • The senators no longer consider parents of U.S. citizens “immediate family” (p. 7). Such is these senators’ view of family relations in 2017.
  • Through an opaque formula—see here for an explanation—it eliminates virtually all hope for legal immigrants to sponsor their spouses and minor children for visas. Immigrants, I suppose, don’t deserve “immediate family.”
  • They end all of the current green card categories and void all applications from all legal immigrants (p. 16) despite them having waited in line in many cases for decades. This is so cruel that it’s almost impossible to imagine putting the idea on paper.
  • Their new point-based “merit” system has no more visas for employment-based immigrants than current law and counts the family of the workers against the quota, meaning that half will not even be “merit-based” (p. 17).
  • Its “merit” track would assign points in the following scheme. You need 20 points:
    • simply being age 26 is worth nearly twice as much (10) as being an entrepreneur who invests $1.4 million in their U.S. business (6).
    • Being fluent in English is worth as much as being an entrepreneur who invests $1.8 million in their U.S. business (12).
    • A 30-year-old fluent in English with any bachelor’s degree (28 points) is better off than a 36-year-old foreign STEM master’s degree holder with 10 years of work history with limited English (17).
    • It downgrades qualified applicants with spouses who are less qualified. Such that:
      • a 46-year-old Nobel laureate with a doctorate in a non-STEM field who is proficient in English and invests $1.4 million in a new business start-up but has a 46-year-old wife with a high school degree and no English gets fewer points (35.9) than a couple of bachelor degree holders who get jobs for $70,000 in Mississippi and who can speak English (36).

This strange ill-conceived proposal should go nowhere for many other reasons, but this bill’s cruelty toward legal immigrants who tried to come to the country the right way and its nonsensical “merit” system are good enough.