Senate Republicans Have a Plan to Lower Legal Immigration

Tom Cotton. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Republicans are helping President Donald Trump make good on one of his campaign promises to lower legal immigration. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia are set to unveil the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, or RAISE Act, on Wednesday alongside Trump, whose administration has been working to help the senators shape the legislation, reports the Washington Post.

Cotton and Perdue first presented the bill in February, which would trim the number of green-card recipients — that is, “people that did it the right way” — by about half over the next ten years. To achieve this, the proposed legislation would tighten visa eligibility for family members, limiting it primarily to children under the age of 21 and spouses. Grandparents, for example, could get screwed for real this time.

That also reflects the bill’s goal to help shift the U.S. immigration system toward a more “merit-based” model, and away from the “chain system,” which focuses on family unification. While the details on this aren’t exactly clear, the proposed legislation would decrease the number of temporary visas for lower-skilled workers, while making some changes to attract more people with specialized skills.

Finally, the bill reportedly includes a refugee cap of 50,000, and would scrap the diversity lottery, which accounts for about 50,000 visas from countries that tend to have lower immigration rates to the United States.

While there’s broad consensus that the U.S. immigration system should be reformed and updated, the question of how is where all agreement breaks down. Democrats are almost certainly going to oppose the RAISE Act in its current form, and as New York’s Ed Kilgore pointed out earlier this year, it may be a tough sell for business-oriented Republicans, or more moderate GOPers who represent more diverse constituencies — though, as the health-care battle made clear, you really never know.

Senate Republicans Have a Plan to Lower Legal Immigration