Pro-Amnesty Business Groups Denounce Cotton’s Immigration Reform Bill


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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Leading pro-amnesty business groups denounced an immigration reform bill Wednesday that would reduce legal immigration levels and move the U.S. to a merit-based immigration system.

Representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us and IBM gathered in Washington to push for a legislative replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

While calling on Congress to pass a DACA amnesty bill, the representatives also blasted the RAISE Act, a measure introduced earlier this year by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.

“We oppose attempts to cut legal immigration as proposed in that legislation,” said chamber Senior Vice President Neil Bradley, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Bradley added that the bill, if passed, would be “harmful for the economy and for America as a whole.”

A favorite of conservative immigration reformers, the RAISE Act would cut annual legal immigration levels by about half over a decade by sharply restricting chain migration and instituting a points system to evaluate potential immigrants on the basis of economic merit. The White House is backing the RAISE Act, but it has met with resistance from Democrats and some Republican lawmakers who want to maintain current immigration levels.

Outside of government, the Chamber of Commerce has come out as one of the leading voices against provisions of the RAISE bill that would reduce immigration. Although it supports unspecified “green card reform,” the chamber generally opposes changes to immigration law that would cut legal immigration levels, which have averaged about 1.1 million new immigrants per year since 2000.

During Wednesday’s news conference, Christopher Padilla, IBM’s vice president of government and regulatory affairs, said company officials “fully agree” with the chamber’s assessment of the RAISE Act.

“We think immigration is a source of strength for this country, particularly high-skilled immigration, and we oppose the legislation from Sens. Cotton and Perdue,” he said.

The senators, on the other hand, say throttling back on legal immigration will help working-class Americans by reducing the number of low-skilled immigrants that enter the labor market. The RAISE Act aims to ensure that high-skilled immigrants can contribute to the U.S. economy while protecting low-skilled American workers, according to Perdue.

“Right now, our current immigration system does not meet the needs of our economy,” he said when the bill was unveiled. “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.”

FWD.us, a pro-amnesty group started by tech industry leaders including Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, is another business organization that opposes the RAISE Act, arguing that its limits on immigration will depress wages for U.S. workers.

In addition to a DACA amnesty, the group supports immigration reforms such as a “modern” legal visa system and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.

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