Trump backs ‘merit-based’ immigration proposal


President Trump on Wednesday threw his support behind a proposal that would cut legal immigration by half and introduce a ‘point-based’ system that would reward skilled foreign labor while protecting U.S. workers and taxpayers.

The Reforming American Immigration for a strong Economy (RAISE) Act put forward by Sens. David Purdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) represents the first-ever attempt at revamping the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act which opened the floodgates to mass immigration. Since it was introduced, annual legal immigration has jumped from 200,000 cases to a staggering 1,000,000.

President Trump said that the legislation “would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century.” He also stressed that the bill would push wages up, bring poverty levels down, and “save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.”

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly stressed that he was in favor of a merit-based immigration system. For decades, the U.S. has imported low-skilled workers while the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 has promoted so-called ‘chain migration,’ where immigrants have been legally allowed to invite many of their relatives to join them.

The Republican senators’ proposal, which would significantly reduce the inflow of low-skilled workers, would force U.S. companies to hire and train a greater number of American workers. U.S. employees would also see their pay packets increase since low-paid workers would no longer flood the labor market.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has long campaigned against mass immigration, welcomed the proposal.

“This proposal will help the Department of Justice perform its duties to uphold our nation’s immigration law and end the unlawful abuse of our public benefits program that undermine U.S. taxpayers,” he said shortly after the RAISE Act was unveiled. He also stressed that the new immigration legislation would protect U.S. workers and guarantee the “security of the U.S. Homeland.”

“The RAISE Act would […] end programs known to be rife with fraud and abuse and finally improve the vetting process, making our country – and working-class wages – much safer and stronger,” he wrote in his statement.

However, two Republican senators – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) – have already spoken out against the proposed legislation.

“South Carolina’s number one industry is agriculture, and tourism is number two. If this proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state’s economy, which relies on this immigrant workforce,” the South Carolina senator said while the senator for Wisconsin stated that the administration should continue to allow “enough people into this country to make sure that we can staff manufacturers and dairy farms and all of our organizations that grow our economy.”

Both Graham and Johnson favor mass low-skilled immigration as various industries in their states rely heavily on cheap labor.