Trump’s RAISE Act Would Cut Legal Immigration, Hurt U.S. Economy

Today President Trump endorsed a bill introduced by Senators Cotton and Perdue, that would drastically curb legal immigration and hurt the U.S. economy. Stephen Miller and Steven Bannon helped work on the bill, so it is not surprising that this bill is also supported by leading white nationalists and extremist anti-immigration groups.


Trump endorsed legislation introduced by Senators Cotton and Perdue that would cut the number of legal immigrants entering the U.S. each year in half.


NPR: “President Trump unveiled controversial legislation on Wednesday that would sharply curtail legal immigration to the United States.  The president met Wednesday morning at the White House with two Republican senators pushing the legislation, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia…. The Cotton-Perdue legislation, also known as the RAISE Act (for Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy) would cut by half the number of legal immigrants accepted into the U.S. each year.”


Trump himself met twice with Cotton and Perdue, and numerous Trump advisers, including Stephen Miller and Steven Bannon, worked on it as well.


Washington Post: “Trump had met twice previously at the White House with Cotton and Perdue to discuss the details of their legislation, which is titled the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act.”


Politico: “The senators have been working closely with Stephen Miller, a senior White House official known for his hawkish stance on immigration. The issue is also a central priority for Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, who has several promises to limit immigration scribbled on the walls of his office.”


The bill would limit green cards for those looking to reunite with their U.S.-based families and cut the number of accepted refugees in half.


Business Insider: “Critics of the bill also attacked its revisions to family-based immigration, arguing that such measures will dissuade skilled immigrants who would otherwise want to come to the US.  ‘Restricting family members from joining their families in the US will make it harder for them to become fully American,’ the National Immigration Forum’s executive director Ali Noorani said in a statement. ‘Cutting legal immigration for the sake of cutting immigration would cause irreparable harm to the American worker and their family.’”


Bloomberg: “And immigration advocacy groups say that by prioritizing high-skill workers, the extended family members of U.S. citizens will be disadvantaged. So too will immigrants looking to escape poverty or violence.  To that end, the legislation would also cap annual refugee admissions to just 50,000 per year, less than half the rate Barack Obama set for his final year in office amid the migration crisis in the Middle East.”


The bill would prioritize awarding green cards to those who speak English and end the visa diversity lottery for individuals from areas that have fewer immigrants in the U.S.


ABC News: “The bill – a revised version of an immigration-reform act introduced in February – would change the system for granting legal residency, or green cards, by giving priority to high-skilled immigrants who are English-speaking.”


Washington Post: “The senators also propose to end a visa diversity lottery that has awarded 50,000 green cards a year, mostly to areas in the world that traditionally do not have as many immigrants to the United States, including Africa. Aides to Cotton said the bill will not include provisions to limit low-skilled temporary workers.”


The legislation has raised fears that it would hurt the U.S. economy and cut off access to lower-skilled workers who are essential for certain industries, like agriculture.


Washington Post: “President Trump endorsed a steep cut in legal immigration on Wednesday. Economists say that’s a ‘grave mistake.’  A Washington Post survey of 18 economists in July found that 89 percent believe it’s a terrible idea for Trump to curb immigration to the United States. Experts overwhelmingly predict it would slow growth — the exact opposite of what Trump wants to do with ‘MAGAnomics.’”


NPR: “Limiting legal immigration is opposed by business groups, which rely on low-skilled workers for agriculture and other jobs. And economists point to the low unemployment rate, 4.4 percent last month, as evidence that there are relatively few Americans who are without jobs now, and that, as Baby Boomers retire, there will be a labor shortage.”


Bloomberg: “Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, for instance, immediately came out against the bill and said it would be ‘devastating to our state’s economy which relies on this immigrant workforce.’  Graham said the legislation would primarily target immigrants who work in the state’s agriculture, tourism, and service industries, and would even prompt greater amounts of illegal immigration.  ‘Hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers will tell you this proposal — to cut legal immigration in half — would put their businesses in peril,’ he said in a statement. ‘After dealing with this issue for more than a decade, I know that when you restrict legal labor to employers it incentivizes cheating.”


The bill is supported by leading white nationalists and extremist anti-immigration groups like FAIR.


Huffington Post: “The bill also has the support of white nationalist William Johnson, who was briefly a Trump delegate. The bill is ‘a viable first step in changing the nation’s immigration policies,’ he said in an email.   ‘Through Senator Cotton’s baby steps,’ he added, ‘out of the timid masses, a reawakening will occur.’”


White Nationalist Richard Spencer: “Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would bar immigrants from bringing almost anyone but their spouses and minor children to the U.S… Richard Spencer, president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, said the bill ‘sounds awesome.’”


Business Insider: “Cotton and Perdue’s bill, however, has already been widely praised by anti-immigration groups, including Numbers USA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).  ‘Nothing underscores the failure of our current immigration system like the constant clamoring from the business sector for more ‘skilled’ workers, while we import over one million immigrants each and every year,’ FAIR said in a statement Wednesday. ‘President Trump … should be applauded for recognizing the current dysfunction of our outdated immigration policies that, unlike the rest of the nation, have been stuck in a time warp for the last 50 years.’”


The Southern Poverty Law Center considers FAIR, which has a long history of racist activity and beliefs, an extremist group.


Southern Poverty Law Center: The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled the Federation for American Immigration Reform an extremist group.


Southern Poverty Law Center: “The memos were far from the sum of Tanton’s extremism. As reports by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) would document, Tanton has a lengthy record of friendly correspondence with Holocaust deniers, a former Klan lawyer and leading white nationalist thinkers, including Jared Taylor (who wrote in 2005, ‘When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears’).”


Southern Poverty Law Center: “Between 1985 and 1994, FAIR received around $1.2 million in grants from the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund is a eugenicist organization that was started in 1937 by men close to the Nazi regime who wanted to pursue ‘race betterment’ by promoting the genetic lines of American whites. Now led by race scientist J. Philippe Rushton, the fund continues to back studies intended to reveal the inferiority of minorities to whites.”


Southern Poverty Law Center: “Maybe Stein has vigorously defended Tanton because he has expressed similarly extreme positions. In 1991, Stein sent a report to FAIR’s board of directors under the subject line: ‘The Defenders of American culture Rise to the Call to Arms.’ In the memo, which is archived at George Washington University’s Gelman Library, Stein celebrated a new ‘disdain’ in the media and among intellectuals for ‘the political agenda of those who openly attack the contributions of Western Civilization.’ He was particularly happy that ‘multicultural and Politically Correct’ school curricula had come under criticism.”