Category: Immigration Policy Center

Why the RAISE Act Is Wrong for Immigrants and for America

November 8th, 2017 — 4:00pm

The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act was introduced in the Senate in August. Now, the bill is back in the spotlight after President Trump’s recent call to end the Diversity Visa Program. If passed, the bill will have disastrous consequences for immigrant families and the American economy — while failing to improve the immigration system as a whole.

 What’s in the RAISE Act?

Introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA), the RAISE Act proposes a drastic reduction in the number of immigrant visas. It aims for a 50 percent cut over the next decade using four tactics:

  1. Slashing family-based visas. All family-based legal immigration other than spouses and minor children will be eliminated.
  2. Introducing a merit-based points system. Visas will be approved or denied based on factors including English ability, advanced education, age and specific job skills.
  3. Reducing refugee visas. The bill proposes a 50,000-visa cap, despite the ever-worsening global refugee crisis.
  4. Eliminating the Diversity Visa Program. This will cut 50,000 annual visas for individuals from historically low-immigration countries, primarily in Africa and Asia.

What Does That Mean for Families?

By eliminating nearly all family-based immigration, the RAISE Act will inevitably — perhaps permanently — result in the separation of families. It does this despite the fact that family-based immigration creates strong, thriving communities where local businesses can flourish. The bill proposes a temporary immigrant visa for the parents of U.S. citizens, but this narrow and impermanent exception is simply not enough.

Eliminating immigration categories for extended family and adult children is a direct attack on family values. It is also unjust to the thousands of applicants for family-based visas who have been in backlog for years, and who will almost certainly not be included in the RAISE Act’s narrow grandfather period.

What Does That Mean for the Economy?

The economic justification behind the RAISE Act is inherently unsound. There is no valid economic argument for such dramatic cuts to immigrant visas. Immigrants contribute positively to the U.S. economy and to society, all while paying more into public benefits systems than they take out.

The RAISE Act also represents unprecedented governmental interference in American businesses. Business owners know best what talent they need to succeed — and an arbitrary and discriminatory point system that disenfranchises immigrants is not the way to make that decision.

What’s Next?

Now is the time to push back against the RAISE Act and its House companion bill, the Immigration in the National Interest Act. You can speak out by contacting your elected representatives today, or by donating your time, energy and resources to immigration activist organizations.



Comment » | Immigration Policy Center

What to Expect Under President-Elect Trump

November 29th, 2016 — 3:35pm

The days of having a Ku Klux Klan endorsement ruin your political career are apparently behind us, as the 2016 presidential election resulted in Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. But what will Trump’s America actually look like? Here’s a preview of what we might see for the future of immigration policy.

Mass Deportations?

President-elect Trump’s platform strongly focused on deporting undocumented immigrants. In a “60 Minutes” post-election interview, Trump doubled down on this sentiment, saying he plans to immediately deport 2-3 million undocumented immigrants who have “criminal records.” Details on how and when this plan might take effect are unknown, though House speaker Paul Ryan stated, “We are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump is not planning on that.”

 Trump’s Cabinet

As the Trump transition team continues to name potential cabinet picks, the future of immigration reform looks bleak. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) will be nominated for Attorney General. Sessions has opposed nearly every immigration bill — for both legal and undocumented immigrants — that has come before the U.S. Senate. Sessions was rejected from a federal judgeship nomination in 1986 due to his “racially charged comments and actions.”

Two names that have been floated for Homeland Security Secretary are departing sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Arpaio is an adamant supporter of restrictive immigration policies, and actively worked to deport immigrants crossing the southern border. Kobach worked with Trump throughout the campaign to articulate his hardline immigration policies.

Sanctuary Cities

In his first 100 days, Trump stated he’d work to cut funding to sanctuary cities, or cities that follow procedures that shelter undocumented immigrants. Mayors from cities including Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore and San Francisco announced their intentions to remain sanctuary cities for immigrants, though it is unknown how Trump’s plan may affect federal funding to these cities.

The Wall

One of Trump’s biggest rallying cries on the campaign trail has been building a southern border wall – and demanding that Mexico pay for it. However, there was no mention of such a wall in his plans for his first 100 days in office. We may just see more fencing.

Moving Forward

Many immigrants have feared for their safety and security in the weeks following the election. However, there are many ways to help immigrants and fight for comprehensive immigration reform policies. You can get started by calling representatives to protest these proposed immigration policies, or donating money to organizations that focus on immigrants’ rights.

Comment » | Immigration Policy Center

Nobels for Immigrants

November 1st, 2016 — 2:23pm

Immigration has always been a polemic issue in the United States, but 2016 in particular has been especially polarizing. Currently, there are 42.4 million immigrants living in the United States, with about 26.3 million in the workforce.

With this kind of growth in population, it’s only natural that the talent pool in the United States continues to grow. In fact, all one needs to do is look at the 2016 American Nobel Prize winners to see this point illustrated.

Being awarded a Nobel Prize is one of the ultimate accomplishments for those working to advance physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature and peace. In 2016, six Nobel Prizes were awarded to American Laureates in areas of chemistry, physics and economics. This is a groundbreaking year for Americans, as the six winners are immigrants.

What makes these Nobel Prize winners stand out is that they are prime examples of how beneficial immigrants are to the United States. In an increasingly global world, science and technology cross borders. As Scottish-born Nobel Laureate Sir J. Fraser explained, “Science is global…the American scientific establishment would only remain strong ‘As long as we don’t enter an era where we turn our back on immigration.’”

This sentiment rings true in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, where the demand for workers is growing faster than the number of people filling these positions. Each year, thousands of immigrants apply for H-1B visas, hoping to be selected to work in the U.S. Many of these applicants are looking for jobs in STEM fields, thus complementing native-born workers.

A Twitter campaign “#TellAmericaItsGreat” led by Canadians has been gaining popularity after Canadian users began tweeting out everything that already make America great, such as the invention of the Internet. What really continues to make America great is its immigrant population, especially when working alongside natural-born workers.

Immigrants built the Unites States as we know it, and history has shown repeatedly the kinds of accomplishments and innovations that immigrants are capable of. Through comprehensive immigration reform, this kind of greatness would not be an isolated incident, but rather become the new norm.

Comment » | Immigration Policy Center

Why Restricting Immigration Won’t Improve Work Opportunities for Native-Born Workers

October 4th, 2016 — 2:37pm

There are over 42.4 million immigrants currently residing in the United States. Of this number, about 26.3 million are members of the workforce, or nearly 17 percent of total U.S. employment. Some argue that native-born workers are losing employment opportunities due to the large number of immigrant workers, and are in favor of more restrictive immigration policies. But how would this actually affect employment for native-born workers?


In 2015, the overall unemployment rate for native-born workers (5.4 percent) was higher than that of foreign-born workers (4.9 percent). While these numbers may seem causal, many more native-born workers are leaving the labor force due to schooling, retirement or disability than their immigrant counterparts.


According to a 2015 Labor Force Characteristics Survey, competition between native- and foreign-born workers in the job market is low. Variables such as education level and where in the country immigrant workers reside affect the types of jobs they have, with many finding opportunities in industries with lower wages and fewer skills required.


Immigrant workers in more skilled positions tend to create more opportunities for native-born workers than is often assumed. The Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Fiscal Policy Institute reported in 2013 that 18 percent of overall U.S. business ownership was made up of foreign-born workers, with another 18 percent of all Fortune 500 companies being founded by immigrants.


This means that immigrants are creating more potential jobs for native-born workers. One example of this is that for every foreign-born worker in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, about 2.62 jobs for native workers are created, thus helping to refuel the economy and boost native employment.


By adding all of these factors together, it is clear that native-born workers would not benefit from the U.S. limiting the amount of immigrants allowed into the country. Through comprehensive immigration reform, both native- and foreign-born workers can benefit from more job opportunities across the board and continue contributing to our economic growth.

Comment » | Immigration Policy Center, Immigration reform

Economic Enhancement: How Immigration Expands the U.S. Economy

July 26th, 2016 — 9:23am

Lower wages and native-born worker unemployment are not synonymous with immigration. More Americans are focusing on this topic as the early rounds of the 2016 presidential race included more in-depth discussion of immigration reform and the economic value immigrants provide. Regardless of the debates, immigrants are helping expand the economy to complement American workers in many sectors of the work force.

 In a recent Bipartisan Policy Center report, Culprit or Scapegoat? Immigration’s Effect on Employment and Wages, Kenneth Megan and Theresa Cardinal Brown lay out causes for native-born worker unemployment. They also examine how employment requirements differ among native- and foreign-born workers. Megan and Cardinal Brown found that many native-born workers are leaving the workforce not because of competition with foreign workers based on lower wages, but by their own choices and/or circumstances including retirement, disability or furthering their education.

Industries with lower paying, less-skilled jobs tend to attract more foreign-born workers than industries requiring more sophisticated skills. Without foreign-born workers filling these positions, economic growth would be limited it is far less likely that native-born workers would take jobs with lower wages such as these. This is especially true in cases where native-born workers are more educated.

 Foreign-born workers with higher levels of education, namely in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, find themselves competing with native-born workers for jobs. Since foreign-born workers must be sponsored by an employer to work in the U.S., obtaining STEM jobs can be more difficult. Every year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows businesses to file for H-1B visas for specialty occupation (professional) workers. The cap per year is 65,000 for workers with a bachelor’s degree, with 20,000 slots for those with advanced U.S. degrees. In recent years, the application quota has been filled in a matter of days, putting the foreign workers into a high-stakes lottery.

Some falsely assume that native-born workers lose employment opportunities to their foreign-born counterparts. In fact, employing high-skilled, foreign-born workers alongside native-born workers in STEM fields helps create more jobs. In these industries, the demand for highly-skilled employees is greater than the supply of native-born workers. Thus, employing more foreign-born workers helps to fill these gaps, leading to more productivity, higher wages and job growth.

Nearly 26 million immigrants are in the U.S. labor force. This includes both lawful permanent residents and undocumented immigrants.

Research confirms that employing immigrant workers helps the economy, and debunks the myth that immigration hinders job growth. Without immigrant members of the labor force, the U.S. economy would suffer with unfilled positions in lower-paying segments and less job creation from immigrant business owners. Enacting comprehensive immigration reform will help expand and enhance our economy even further through strong job creation.


Comment » | Immigration Policy Center

Back to top