While President Trump has made it a priority to curb undocumented immigrants from both coming to and remaining in the U.S. (immigration arrests shot up by 38% in 2017 over the same period in 2016), on August 2, 2017, the President announced his support for the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act), legislation introduced by Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) that would also curb legal immigration into the U.S. Although this bill, combined with other factors such as increased immigration enforcement and anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from the White House, certainly has had a chilling effect on immigration, the RAISE Act faces an uphill battle in Congress and has little chance of passing. The current system of distributing green cards has been largely unchanged for over half a century, despite numerous proposals to do so. Additionally, the current Congress is already busy considering major proposals to reform health care, the tax code, and the government’s budget, and will find it difficult to pass such major legislation before the term is over.
The bill proposes to cut legal immigration to the U.S. by 50%, and would significantly change the way in which individuals qualify for permanent residency (i.e. green cards), which has largely been unchanged since the current Immigration and Nationality Act was passed in 1965. Specifically, the RAISE Act proposes the following changes to our current immigration laws:
- Eliminate the current system in place for distributing the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued each year, currently through various methods depending on preference category (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, EB-5), and replace it with a skills-based points system based on level of education, English-language ability, having a high-paying job offer, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative.
- Eliminate certain family-based green card categories, namely those for siblings of U.S. citizens and adult children of permanent residents and U.S. citizens.
- Eliminate the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (Diversity Lottery), which currently provides for 50,000 green cards to individuals selected in a random computer-generated lottery who are from countries of low immigration to the U.S.
- Limit the number of green cards issued to refugees to 50,000 per year.
For now, the bill is pending, and our current immigration laws remain unchanged. If you have questions regarding this or other proposed legislation to reform our immigration system, or how it would affect you or your business, please call our office to schedule a consultation.