What The Deal is With The New Immigration Bill

On Wednesday, August 2nd 2017 President Trump threw his support behind a bill called Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” or the “RAISE Act” that will implement reforms to legal Immigration. The bill was introduced to the Senate by Republican Sens. David Perdue (Ga.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) members on February this year to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The full text of the bill can be found here.

You done reading? I didn’t think so. I mean, who has time to read an entire bill written by a guy born on the same year as Bill O’Reilly, and another guy who.. is the youngest US senator? Huh. How about that. Anyway the answer to my question is.. this guy. By this guy I mean me. I read the bill, so you don’t have to. You are welcome. Okay fine, I’ll shut up and get on with it.

First of all the bill aims to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, otherwise known as the Green Card Lottery. Yeah you guessed it, applicants purchase a lottery ticket, and wait excitedly to see if they get lucky (actually this is not entirely true; factors other than luck play a more important role, but we will get into that later). The bill’s text meticulously removes every aspect of the program, leaving the only other avenues for getting an immigrant visa to be through a family member, or employment. Again, there is a bit more to this but, I’ll get into that later.(I probably won’t, my hands are already tired)

Secondly, The bill limits the number of refugees that can be admitted to the US to 55,000 per year. It prohibits the President from increasing or reducing that number be it humanitarian concerns or National Security concerns. Honestly, I don’t think Trump read this part. This basically takes his power regarding refugee admissions, and gives it to the Senate or House Judiciary Committee, along with the Secretary of State and The Director of Homeland Security. The Attorney General was replaced with Director of Homeland Security in regards to termination of a refugee alien status, or waivers. So The Director of Homeland Security will be given power in refugee Immigrant decisions instead of the Attorney General.

Thirdly, the bill aims to limit the number of family sponsored immigrants that come into the US each year by more than a quarter of the current level. It redefines immediate relatives as spouses and children only, eliminating parents. Also, right now, Green card holders can sponsor their children to come to the United States. If the parent becomes naturalized, their children get a higher priority. The bill changes that by making their priority stay the same regardless of their parent’s status change.

Furthermore, the bill also has additional provisions. It places skill as a top priority for issuing immigrant visas. Immigrants who are well versed in their profession, and who can speak English are placed higher on the priority list. In the current system, family sponsored immigrants have the highest priority, but this bill will relegate them close to the bottom. Also, the bill requires that immigrants be able to support themselves (If they are over 21), and prohibits them from accessing welfare benefits almost immediately. Citizen parents of immigrants under 21 must be able to provide healthcare and other necessary amenities for their children. Also, this bill adds a new visa. It would would permit the foreign-born parents of adult U.S. citizens to visit for renewable five-year periods. Supposedly this is to make up for cutting the parents out of the family sponsored visa category but, it wouldn’t allow them to work in the United States or become Citizens. The children also have to be able to support their parents for the Five year period, which would include Healthcare and costs of living. I don’t see this being a popular one.

The biggest cut in this bill is the diversity program. Family sponsored immigration was also capped but, The Green Card Lottery is the main purpose behind this bill. Most countries who immigrate to the US with this bill are countries from Africa and Europe; countries like Cameroon, Liberia and Ukraine topping the list. But not just anyone can apply to this. To be eligible, you must have at least a high school diploma or two years of work experience. Winners are selected based on skill set, and command of the English language. Speaking English is not a must but, it increases your chances of being selected if you do.( You can read all about the DVA here). For years both Republicans and Democrats (Mostly Republicans) have sought to end this program. A bill proposing to end this program passed in the house on November 2012. The bill never passed in the Senate. Chuck Schumer also introduced a bill that ended the program in 2013. It passed in the Senate. Never went through the House. There are a lot more bills from both Republicans and Democrats that proposed to end the program but never even made it to the floor of both the house and the senate. So it would seem that this bill would at least be able to easily pass in both chambers and onto the desk of a President who is willing to sign anything the Republicans present to him. Well…no.

First of all it is important to point out that Republicans and Democrats rarely work together on anything; even if it something they agree with it. They constantly try to one up each other and with the exception of bills that do not generate much public interest or matters regarding national security, they will oppose something the other side just because they do not wasn’t the other side to claim a win. However, partisanship is not the only reason this bill is doomed. The chief reason is President Trump.

It is common knowledge that Trump likes to slap his names on things. Be it buildings, hotels, restaurants or clothing brands, Trump likes to see his name everywhere. I mentioned earlier that this bill was introduced back in February 2017. Trump initially had nothing to do with it. Why did he back it now? Simple. He needed a win after his healthcare defeat. Here is the thing, it may seem Trump has not fulfilled any of his campaign promises. On the contrary he has fulfilled plenty of them. He has lowered regulations for his wall street buddies, enacted his Muslim ban, kept Guantanamo Bay open, withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, saved the carrier plant in Indiana (Full List can be seen here) But his most popular ones; Repeal and Replace Obamacare, Tax Reform and building a wall and making Mexico pay for it have been a slow burn. Especially repealing Obamacare which took a major hit in the Senate last week. Trump badly needs a win; preferably one that would garner much public attention so what better one to give him a win than this bill which would appease his base, mostly consisting of xenophobic people. (Please don’t answer that) Now, I am not saying all of Trump’s supporters are Xenophobic. (By supporters I am referring to everyday Americans who blindly actively support him and occasionally lobby on his behalf not people who took a chance on him because they didn’t like “Crooked Hillary” ). They are just people who are tired of immigrants coming from outside and taking their jobs away from them, their healthcare and their food. They are concerned Muslims will impose sharia law on the US (Not even close to happening) and that immigrants will slowly change American culture forcing them to wear luaus (Yes I know, don’t come for me in the comments) and dance around campfires naked. (Okay that last one was a joke). The point is they are simply distrustful of immigrants.(Don’t click that link). So Trump wants to give them what they want. But he can’t, because people just don’t like him.

Take Obamacare for repeal for example. The house and The senate have repealed Obamacare in the past. Obama vetoed it. Now that they control the three houses, you would think they would finally fulfill their six-year long dream. But they have failed at every juncture. Why? Donald Trump. Of course you can attribute it to the possibility that the Republicans are being cautious now since they know that if they pass the bill now, it would go into law and they would receive the blame of it goes bad, or you can attribute last night’s defeat to John McCain who will probably not seek reelection when his term is over and is now free to vote his conscience but, you cannot deny the fact that Trump is the chief reason why it is just not getting done. He belittles and threatens the Republican senators constantly; often on twitter, and humans will do something opposite than what you want just to spite you if you piss them off. It probably doesn’t help that he shoots himself in the mouth with his constant badgering of McConnell, and attacks on Sessions. In short, Republicans are in no mood to do Trump favors. It also doesn’t hurt that each time Republicans stand up to Trump, they get public approval.

Look, there is no doubt that immigrants help boost the American Economy. 27% of businesses in the US are owned by immigrants,(source), they contribute to the work force which in turn Increases Revenue, they take jobs that US-born individuals do not want but are crucial to the survival of the economy. They contribute in Science research, Engineering and food. (If you haven’t had Indian food, you are missing out, my friend). This bill’s main purpose is to supposedly boosts the economy by bringing in only immigrants with a very high skill set in prestigious areas. But one can argue that lower skilled immigrants contribute even more to the economy. Considering the amount of jobs that require lower-skilled workers, it would be foolish to ignore them. Also consider this; when immigrants are granted an immigrant visa, they are given six months to pack up, sell their houses properties and make the move to the US. This shows the quality of the character of the people who come to the diversity program.

This bill would not strengthen the economy. It would severely weaken it, and make America look worse than they do now to our neighboring countries and yonder. But who cares, I mean it’s not going to pass anyway. It is doing so badly in the polls. Well, we all know what happens when you do poorly in the polls….



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