Today, President Trump publicly endorsed Senate Bill 354, the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, first introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) in February 2017. If enacted, this bill would slash legal immigration into the U.S. by over 40% in its first year, and by 50% in its tenth year. Wolfsdorf Rosenthal previously blogged on an earlier version of the RAISE Act, and noted the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates the clear economic benefit of immigrants in the U.S. For example, a 2011 study by Partnership for a New American Economy demonstrates that more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children.
Nevertheless, Senator Perdue has indicated that “Returning to our historically normal levels of legal immigration will help improve the quality of American jobs and wages.” However, even the conservative Cato Institute, not necessarily known as the greatest supporter of immigrants, has taken issue with this bold-faced lie, as the authors of the RAISE Act fail to consider the current U.S. population when making such a statement. The Cato Institute writes:
This statement is so misleading that it borders on outright deception. The “level” is just the absolute number of immigrants each year. But this treats the number of immigrants in 1900 the same as the number of immigrants in 2017, despite the fact that the U.S. population quadrupled during that time. You have to control for the size of the country. It’s like saying a million immigrants to China is the same as a million immigrants to Estonia—despite the fact that China is 1,000 times more populous.
The Cato Institute has provided a graph which shows how wrong Senators Cotton and Perdue are:
Cutting legal immigration levels by nearly 50% may sound like a good idea for politically-motivated Republicans looking at the 2018 midterm elections or the 2020 Electoral College map. Yet, it’s unclear how it will benefit the United States or keep our country at the cutting edge of technology and innovation. As we previously stated, the RAISE Act is not the type of comprehensive immigration reform needed to bring U.S. immigration policy into the 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.