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RAISE Act Introduced, Cuts Immigration Numbers, Makes Merit Top Priority

Cotton Perfue RAISE Act
Republican Senators Tom Cotton, David Perdue and Sen. Josh Hawley have introduced the 2019 version of the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, a bill to replace the current employment-visa system with a skills-based framework that gives priority to immigrants who are more educated, speak English and have a history of achievement.

In a statement announcing the introduction of the 2019 version of the bill the Senators said it would spur economic growth and raise working Americans' wages by giving priority to the best-skilled immigrants from around the world and reducing overall immigration levels. Representative Francis Rooney (FL-19) will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The RAISE Act is supported by President Trump and has been described by the White House as a bill that "will create a merit-based immigration system that protects our workers, our taxpayers, and our economy."

Specifically, the RAISE Act would:

  1. Establish a Skills-Based Points System. The RAISE Act would replace the current permanent employment-visa system with a skills-based points system, akin to the systems used by Canada and Australia. The system would prioritize those immigrants who are best positioned to succeed in the United States and expand the economy. Applicants earn points based on education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative.

  2. Prioritize Immediate Family Households. The RAISE Act would retain immigration preferences for the spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents while eliminating preferences for certain categories of extended and adult family members.

  3. Eliminate the Outdated Diversity Visa Lottery. The Diversity Lottery is plagued with fraud, advances no economic or humanitarian interest, and does not even promote diversity. The RAISE Act would eliminate the 50,000 visas arbitrarily allocated to this lottery.

  4. Place a Responsible Limit on Permanent Residency for Refugees. The RAISE Act would limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year.

"I'm proud to reintroduce the RAISE Act supported by the White House. For decades, our immigration system has been completely divorced from the needs of our country and has harmed the livelihoods of working-class Americans. The RAISE Act would build an immigration system that increases working-class wages, creates jobs, and gives every citizen a fair shot at achieving the American Dream, no matter whether their family came over on the Mayflower or just took the Oath of Allegiance," said Cotton.

"Our current immigration system is broken and is not meeting the needs of our growing economy. If we want to continue to be the global economic leader, we have to welcome the best and brightest from around the world who wish to come to the United States legally to work and make a better life for themselves. This will require a skills-based immigration system that is pro-growth and pro-worker. The RAISE Act is proven to work and is still the only plan that responds to the needs of our economy, while preserving quality jobs and wages for American workers," said Perdue.

"We need an immigration system that puts American workers first. Our broken immigration policies hurt hardworking Americans and the talented individuals who are stuck in line, waiting to contribute to our country. With the RAISE Act, the United States can finally end chain migration and move to a merit-based system. All Americans deserve rising wages, a growing economy, and an equal shot at the American Dream," said Hawley.

"The United States immigration system is broken. Only one in every 15 immigrants to our country are granted visas because of their skills, and we do not prioritize the ultra high-skilled immigrants who spur innovation, create jobs, and make America more competitive. The system we have now supports programs like the Diversity Visa Lottery, which does not add skills or competitive workers to our workplace, and "chain migration," whereby once a person enters, their family relations can automatically come to the U.S. regardless of their employability. Together with Senator Tom Cotton, I introduced the RAISE Act to end these failed programs and replace them with a merit-based system that considers education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative. Passing this legislation, along with legislation that I have cosponsored to fix the asylum-seeking process and mandate e-verify, will provide significantly better immigration policy and greater control of our borders," said Congressman Rooney.

Click here to read the full text of the legislation. Additionally, click here for a section by section summary and here for a fact sheet on the legislation.

We thank Senators Cotton, Perdue and Hawley for introducing the RAISE Act and we thank Rep. Rooney for carrying it in the House. From our perspective any bill that ends the visa lottery program, reduces the number of alleged refugees admitted and encourages the world’s best and brightest to emigrate to America legally is a good place to start, but the proof is in the bill that passes, not in the bill that is introduced.

We urge CHQ readers and friends to call their Senators and Representative (the toll-free Capitol Switchboard is 1-866-220-0044) to urge them to co-sponsor the RAISE Act and to ask the congressional leadership to bring it swiftly to the floor for a vote.

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