President Trump has recently expressed his enthusiastic endorsement of restrictive immigration legislation sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.). The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, known as the "RAISE Act" (S. 1720), deals with individuals coming to the United States as immigrants (that is, as permanent residents with Green Cards) rather than those who come on a temporary basis, such as H-1B workers or F-1 students.

As the bill’s title reflects, the sponsors link immigration reform with the economy, and the President agrees. At a news conference with Sens. Cotton and Perdue, President Trump said that a merit-based immigration system, the critical portion of the Act, was necessary to replace the “very low-skilled immigration system …. This policy has placed substantial pressure on American workers, taxpayers and community resources.”

The legislation would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a skills-based immigration “points” system, focus family-sponsored immigration on spouses and children, eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, and set a limit on the number of refugees admitted annually to the United States, among other things. More specifically, the RAISE Act would

*Replace employment-based categories with skills-based points system. The legislation would replace the current employment-based immigrant categories with a system that would reward “education, English-language ability, high paying job offers, past achievements and entrepreneurial initiative.”

*Reduce number of low-skilled and unskilled immigrants. The legislation would “reduce[] overall immigration numbers to limit low-skilled and unskilled labor entering the United States.”

*End so-called “chain migration.” The legislation would end family-based preference categories for siblings, extended family members, and adult children of U.S. citizens.

*Eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery. The legislation would eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery system, which awards 50,000 immigrant visas annually with the purpose of diversifying the immigrant population by selecting applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

*Cap admissions of refugees to 50,000 a year.

If enacted, the RAISE Act is expected to reduce the number of immigrants admitted to the United States over the next decade (currently about 1 million a year) by 50 percent.

We will keep you posted on the course of this proposed – and, so far, very controversial – legislation.

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