Trump just unveiled a new plan to slash legal immigration

The bill would create a new points-based system for applicants seeking to become legal permanent residents, favoring those who can speak English, have high-paying job offers, can financially support themselves and offer skills that would contribute to the USA economy. The American public should not be fooled by the labeling of this bill as 'merit-based.' The clear goal of this bill is to reduce the number of immigrants to the United States. The vast majority of Asian immigrants have come to the US through the family-based immigration system, and many Asian immigrants that come on employment-based visas also use the family-based system to reunite with family members.

While cracking down on illegal immigration was central to Trump's campaign, his position on legal immigration has been much more ambiguous. He added that the legislation is meant to favor green-card applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves, and demonstrate their skills, which he said would "reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions". The current system, Trump said, "has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers". VerBruggen calls that a major problem, with good reason: Politically, opposing legal immigration is not a good hill to fight on.

Trump's prepared speeches and policy papers often reflected their views: His campaign proposed a pause on issuing H-1B worker visas and Trump pledged in a speech to return overall immigration to "historical norms", which some observers saw as a code for a significant decrease.

The bill also caps annual refugee admissions at 50,000 and completely eliminates the diversity visa lottery, a Department of State program that awards immigrant visas to people from countries with historically low levels of immigration to the U.S. The plan, as NPR reports, is "opposed by business groups, which rely on low-skilled workers for agriculture and other jobs".

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"This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy", Trump said Wednesday at the White House alongside Cotton and Perdue.

Trump's appearance was aimed at bringing attention to the bill, which has been largely ignored in the Senate, with no other lawmaker signing on as a co-sponsor.

The RAISE Act replaces the current permanent employment-visa framework with a skills-based system that rewards applicants based on their individual merits.

"They're not going to come in and immediately go and collect welfare.They can't do that", he said. The chart below from Deutsche Bank economist Torsten Slok shows just how misguided a more restrictive immigration policy would be from a purely demographic perspective - just imagine the long-run hit to growth. "Cutting legal immigration for the sake of cutting immigration would cause irreparable harm to the American worker and their family".

  • Sonia Alvarado