By Salvador Gutierrez:
On Aug. 2, 2017, President Donald Trump and senators from Arkansas and Georgia introduced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, a bill that, according to them, would end the issues created by the abnormally high immigration problem the country is facing.
Senator Perdue stated that the proposed legislation would create a points-based system that is more responsive to the needs of the economy and preserves the quality of jobs available to American workers, prioritizing skilled immigrants, the way Canada and Australia do.
The system contains several requirements for the applicants, some of which are level of education, work experience, language ability and age. Felipe Zavala, an attorney at The Zavala Law Firm, said the RAISE Act would make it more difficult to obtain employment-based green cards.
“The result would grant favoritism to English speakers with the financial ability to support themselves.”
The bill would cut family-sponsored visas by considering skills over bloodlines, and would make it more difficult for college students to obtain an employment-based green card.
According to local immigration attorney Shilpa Shah, the only family-based immigration visas that would not be eliminated are the ones for spouses and children under the age of 18.
Applicants’ amount of liquidity and their capacity to contribute to the United States economy are also on the list of requirements to get a green card. Also, the bill would restrict green card holders from receiving welfare or other federal benefits for a period of five years. “This ban will be retroactive to current green card holders,” Zavala said.
Politicians, media, citizens and immigration experts have divided opinions about the proposed bill.
Senator Cotton said that the new legislation would build an immigration system that raises working wages, creates jobs, and gives every American a fair shot at creating wealth.In Shah’s opinion, however, the RAISE act would actually harm the U.S. in several ways.
“The bill will remove lower-skilled immigrants from the U.S. immigration system when there is a need for all levels of workers,” Shah said. “It would disadvantage the businesses that need seasonal workers to fill in the gaps in our economy as those workers would not meet the requirement points.”
The new immigration system would set limits on the flexibility of businesses to decide what kind of workers best suit their needs, Shah said.
Amarillo College criminal justice major, Josephine Rodriguez pointed out that other countries such as Spain and the Netherlands require immigrants to be contributing citizens in order to qualify for permanent residency.
“Immigrant or not we have always contributed to the economy that’s why when we file taxes we use an ITIN number,” Rodriguez said.
But according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the bill is intended to reduce immigration rates and give more opportunities to the U.S. born working class. “This proposal will end the unlawful abuse of our public benefits programs that undermine U.S. taxpayers,” Sessions said.
As for recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the bill won’t have a direct effect because the RAISE Act does not consider DACA holders to have any legal status.
For DACA recipients, the path to a green card would be limited by the categories of the point-based system mentioned before. Zavala said he trusts that at some point in the future, DACA holders will have a path to permanent residency.
“I believe it would be harder for DACA recipients to obtain green cards” if the RAISE Act passes since there would be lower numbers of green cards available, he said.
Congress has tried to pass immigration bills three times in the last 11 years but these bills have failed every time. Experts believe the RAISE Act has a low chance of being enacted. There is no set day for a vote on the proposal.