President Donald Trump introduced legislation Wednesday that would halve legal immigration numbers in ten years. Trump joined Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., on Capitol Hill to present the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, dubbed “RAISE.”
The bill aims to prioritize workers’ skills over family ties, and amounts to the “most significant reform to our immigration system in half a century,” Trump said. The goal of the bill would be to knock down the number of legal immigrants admitted into the U.S. each year from about 1 million to 500,000 by 2027.
The RAISE bill would cut out the four-tiered family immigration category for green cards, paving way for a new merit-based system that prioritizes high-skilled workers who have a high level of English and “entrepreneurial initiative.”
“This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy,” Mr. Trump said.
Minor children and spouses of Americans wouldn’t be affected but Americans with elderly parents would have to file for a new, “renewable, temporary visa” for them to come instead.
Under the current system, most legal Americans are admitted to the U.S. based on family ties. American citizens can sponsor spouses, parents and minor children for visas that aren’t capped at a certain number under the “family” category. Siblings and adult children of Americans and children of green card holders can get sponsored too but are listed as lower priorities.
Trump and the White House stressed that the new bill would “stop many immigrants from coming in and just immediately going” to access their social welfare benefits. The bill expects all immigrants to be able to “fully support themselves financially.”
The attention to welfare in the bill comes on the heels of Trump’s announcement on June 21 in an Iowa rally that he wanted to bar new immigrants from being eligible for welfare for at least five years after arrival.
But federal law already bars most foreigners with immigrant visas from being eligible for federal benefits for their first five years in the country.
The RAISE bill also slashes out another important category in the current system: the diversity lottery program.
The Diversity Visa allows 50,000 applicants from underrepresented countries to obtain a green card to come to the U.S. It…