President Donald Trump has announced his support for a reduction in legal immigration to the United States, backing a modified version of the bill first introduced in April by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA).
Trump on August 2 said he embraced a new “merit-based” immigration system, which he contends will benefit American workers, and a change from the existing “family-based” system.
The proposed “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act” would:
- Cut legal immigration by 50% over 10 years.
- End diversity lottery visas.
- Cap the number of refugees who are offered permanent residency in the U.S. each year at 50,000 (far lower than the 110,000 previously announced by the Obama Administration).
- Discontinue green card preference given to the extended family or adult children of immigrants who already live legally in the U.S.; although spouses, children under the age of 18, and ill parents would still receive preference.
- Create a framework to give priority to green card applicants based on factors including English language ability, education levels, and job skills.
The timing of this announcement represents a pivot by the Administration to refocusing on immigration, which was a central issue to the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, after other major issues have dominated its attention.
The bill’s prospects are uncertain in Congress, particularly in the Senate, where some bipartisan opposition is likely and the bill would need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.