Several reform proposals have been introduced in recent weeks, but the RAISE Act, introduced in the Senate with strong support from Trump, has garnered much public attention. Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act (S.354) seeks to cut legal immigration numbers in half. The bill would:
- create a “points-based” system of merit that does not take into account the needs of U.S. businesses;
- all but eliminate family-based immigration, by limiting U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsoring only their spouses and minor children for green cards;
- reduce the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. to 50,000 per year; and
- eliminate the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which has awarded 50,000 green cards annually to people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.
A recent report found that reducing legal immigration will not increase wages for U.S. workers and will actually reduce U.S. economic growth. It further observes that the U.S. political system makes it unlikely for a points system to operate effectively or in a manner similar to Canada or Australia.
On the other end of the spectrum. another bill introduced in the House, the Agricultural Worker Program Act of 2017 (H.R. 2690), would allow agricultural workers and their families to apply for work authorization if they meet certain requirements. This is the House companion to S.1034.
While it is doubtful that these bills will progress very far, clearly immigration continues to remain front and center from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.