Where is the Love? Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s Bill Seeks to Reduce Legal Immigration by Half

By:  Bernard Wolfsdorf, Esq. and Joseph M. Barnett, Esq.

The Immigration Act of 1952 which forms the basis of our immigration law puts family reunification at the heart of our immigration policy. Bringing families together is the “American way” that has served our nation well.

In a new era, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Georgia) have proposed a new bill on immigration, the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Enforcement, or RAISE Act. If enacted this bill seeks to slash overall immigration into the U.S. by over 40% in its first year, and by 50% in its tenth year.

This approach is consistent with President Trump’s avowed policy to reduce the number of immigrants into the U.S.  Despite the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates the clear economic benefit of immigrants in the U.S., the Republican senators attribute a decline in wages by U.S. workers to increased immigration by low-skill workers.

The RAISE Act includes:

  1. Elimination of Immigration for Extended and Adult Family Members.

The current immigration system allows U.S. citizens and green card holders to petition for certain relatives to come and live permanently in the U.S.  The RAISE Act would eliminate the following types of relatives from obtaining a green card through family-based immigration:

  • Adult parents of U.S. citizens
  • Adult siblings of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens
  • Married adult children of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried adult children of legal permanent residents

This proposal is inconsistent with one of the major principles currently underlying US. Policy on legal permanent immigration – the reunification of family. Moreover, spouses, parents and children of U.S., citizens, many of whom have been patiently waiting in line for years, will lose out if this bill is enacted to law.

  1. Eliminate Diversity Visa Lottery. The current immigration system provides up to 50,000 immigrant visas each year, drawn from random selection among entries from individuals who are from countries of low rates of immigration to the U.S.  The RAISE Act would eliminate this Diversity Lottery.  This proposal also appears to be inconsistent with one of the major principles currently underlying US. Policy on legal permanent immigration – the diversity of admissions by country of origin. This program was introduced to benefit low admission countries, and Africans and Europeans have been receiving approximately 80% of the annual allocation.
  1. Reduce Green Cards for Refugees. The Immigration and Nationality Act defines “refugees” as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” due to race, membership in a particular social group, political opinion, religion, or national origin.  Each year, the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions.  The RAISE Act would limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year, which is half the more routine 100,000 that have been admitted. With millions of people suffering in camps throughout the world, the U.S. will lose its position as a nation of compassion that has rationally helped those in dire need. Our strength comes in part from our moral authority. We need to maintain our strength by showing compassion.

The RAISE Act is not the type of comprehensive immigration reform needed to bring U.S. immigration policy into the 21st century. The U.S. can help our citizens in need, to improve their lives and welfare of our nation, and lead the world into the challenging 21st century. We need smart, compassionate and effective immigration reform that promotes America’s interest by bringing the best and brightest, uniting families, providing skilled and lesser-skilled workers, and welcoming refugees and asylees in a system based on due process and fairness. Finally, we must provide a roadmap to legalization for hardworking, law abiding undocumented persons so they can come out of the shadows, pay taxes and obtain legal stat us. Both President Bush and President Obama, tried and failed, so we can only hope President Trump and Congress will do the right thing and show love for our nation and for our citizens by making America greater and keeping it great.

Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP is a full-service immigration law firm known worldwide for its unmatched excellence in providing top-quality U.S. immigration representation. Subscribe to our immigration blog to remain updated and contact Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP Immigration Law offices if you have any questions. We have Immigration Law Offices in New York and Los Angeles.

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