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:
- Slashing family-based visas. All family-based legal immigration other than spouses and minor children will be eliminated.
- 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.
- Reducing refugee visas. The bill proposes a 50,000-visa cap, despite the ever-worsening global refugee crisis.
- 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.
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.