A newly proposed bill — the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act — aims to reduce the number of immigrants legally entering the United States through a merit, point-based system that would favor highly-skilled workers who are proficient in English. If passed, the bill could cut the number of immigrants who legally enter the Unites States each year in half, from approximately 1 million per year to 500,000 per year by 2027.
Additionally, the RAISE Act would cut the diversity lottery program, which grants visas to immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration, and would change the family immigration category to favor minor children and spouses in the hopes of capping the issuance of visas based on family ties.
The bill is meant to model Canadian and Australian immigration programs that also favor highly-skilled workers and rely on a point-based system. Under the United States’ current employment-based green card system, favor is given to immigrants with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics,” but there is no official point system to determine who ultimately receives priority. The proposed system would consider factors including education level, age, earning potential, current or previous U.S. investments and notable achievements, and would grant points based on where individuals fall in those categories. For high-priority consideration, an applicant would need a minimum of 30 points.
Critics of the bill are concerned that the system as proposed would effectively eliminate a number of highly skilled workers from consideration. While both Canada and Australia utilize a point-system, it is not the only means of employment-based immigration in those countries. In addition, I believe a lack of lesser-skilled immigrant workers will threaten the economy’s stability, since many jobs considered to be risky and less desirable are often staffed by immigrants. There is also concern that the bill attacks core American values and unfairly targets immigrant families.
It’s unclear whether or not the bill will pass Congress, but in recent years similar bills have been presented to Congress — though all have been killed. What seems clear, however, is that the current administration will continue their focus on immigration reform that focuses on immigration enforcement only. One of President Trump’s most recent immigration measures include the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which prompted the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor to promise increases in investigations and fraud detection.
If you have any questions on immigration policy or creating an immigration plan for your company, please give me a call.
Brad Hendrick heads the immigration law section at Caplan and Earnest LLC. He may be reached at [email protected] or 303-443-8010.