GOP Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas introduced legislation Thursday aimed at scaling back legal immigration in the United States, shifting current policy to a skills-based immigration system.
The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act would eliminate the Diversity Visa program, which allows 50,000 immigrants from low-immigration countries access to green cards based on a lottery system. Permanent visas for refugees would also be capped at 50,000 per year. In addition, visa preference would no longer be given to extended family members of those working in the U.S., and would change the current permanent employment-visa framework into a skills-based points system similar to what is used in Australia and Canada.
Proponents of the bill — which would reduce immigration to the U.S. by half — argue it will promote hiring American workers and increase wages.
“Right now, our current immigration system does not meet the needs of our economy,” Perdue said in a statement. “We want to welcome talented individuals from around the world who wish to come to the United States legally to work and make a better life for themselves.”
Cotton echoed Perdue’s sentiments, saying the bill will address long-needed reforms.
“For decades, our immigration system has been completely divorced from the needs of our economy, and working Americans’ wages have suffered as a result,” Cotton said. “Our legislation will set things right.”
While the bill received a strong endorsement from President Donald Trump, it faces an uphill battle in Congress. Skeptics on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns it would lead to a reduction in jobs reduce economic growth.
“This is different than illegal immigration,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “This creates jobs in America. This helps America, and we think it’s a non-starter.”
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