Even if it won’t pass anytime in the future, we need to give credit to Senators David Purdue and Tom Cotton for drafting the RAISE Act and starting a needed discussion about immigration reform. Their bill would change some of the problems with our immigration policy that was implemented in 1965.
The 1965 law gave preference to relatives of U.S. citizens over just about everyone else. At the time, it was thought that the beneficiaries would be small in number. That is not what has taken place. Nearly two-thirds of the new green cards issued each year are for relatives rather than for immigrants who could immediately help the U.S. economy.
This policy has led to what critics call “chain migration.” One immigrant who is granted a green card, sponsors a spouse, who then sponsors her siblings, who then sponsor her adult children. The process goes on and on for what seems like an endless chain.
The RAISE Act would modernize immigration policy by using a point system. It would still allow family members, but also weight immigration toward those with skills needed in the American economy. Critics say that it would give high-skilled citizens from affluent countries in Europe and Asia a boost. That is true, but it would also help potential immigrants from poor countries that have skills needed in the American economy.
Politicians who want to keep the current system argue that high immigration levels actually provide significant economic benefits to the U.S. economy. Reihan Salam writing in the National Review quotes from studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The research shows only a slight economic benefit in terms of GDP. A new policy that may favor skilled workers with high earning potential should have a much more positive effect on our economy.
It is doubtful the bill will pass anytime in the near future, but it deserves more attention and discussion. A change in immigration policy would be better for skilled immigrants and certainly better for America.