New Immigration Reform Bill; the RAISE ACT; Uphill Battle to Overhaul the Nation’s Green Card System

Today, President Trump, along with Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia), introduced plans for a new immigration reform bill specifically targeting America’s current Green Card system. At the White House, following an introduction by President Trump, Senators Cotton and Perdue provided their reasons for why the bill should become the law of the land. The bill is the called the “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” or the RAISE Act, for short.

President Trump describes the proposal as a focus on “merit-based” immigration; this was a campaign promise on which he intends to make good. He says the legislation “would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in a half a century.” The two Senators echoed this message as well.

Of the two Senators, Senator Cotton spoke first and made the following points:

Our legal immigration system should accomplish two main goals. One, it should help American Workers get a decent pay raise and have a higher standard of living, and two, we should help promote economic growth to make America more competitive in the world. Our current system simply does not do that.

So, first, we bring over one million immigrants into this country a year… A vast majority of those immigrants come here not because of their English language abilities, or their job skills, and their ability to succeed in this economy.

Second, we also lose out on the very best talent coming to our country.

The RAISE Act will change all of that by reorienting our Green Card system towards people who can speak English, who have high degrees of educational attainment, who have a job offer that pays more than a typical job in their local economy, who are going to create a new business, who are outstanding in their field around the world…

Senator Perdue spoke next and made the following points:

Today as Tom said, we bring in 1.1 million legal immigrants per year. Over 50% of our households of legal immigrants today participate in our social welfare system. Right now, only one out of fifteen who come into our country, come in with skills that are employable. We’ve got to change that.

What we are introducing today is modeled on the current Canadian and Australian systems. It’s a pro-worker, pro-growth system, and it has been proven to work. Both have been extremely successful in attracting highly skilled workers to those countries.

We can all agree that the goals of our immigration system should be to protect the interests of working Americans, including immigrants, and to welcome talented individuals who come here legally and want to work and make a better life for themselves. Our current system makes it virtually impossible for them to do that.

More details are sure to be released soon, but today general policy considerations dominated the announcement at the White House. In the end, any new bill would have to pass both houses of Congress prior to being signed by the president. Most mainstream commenters note that the bill has little chance to pass, because a passing bill will require a bipartisan vote; especially in the Senate, where 60 Senators will have to agree to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.