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New Immigration Bill Seeks to Reduce Legal Immigration By Half

By Joseph G. Ballstaedt

Two Republican Senators from Arkansas and Georgia, Tom Cotton and David Perdue, have sponsored new legislation that would limit legal immigration. It is reported that this legislation—the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act or RAISE Act—would cut by more than half the number of refugees permitted to enter the United States and that it would end a federal green card lottery program. This lottery program is seen as a method of increasing diversity in the visa system by giving visas to countries with lower rates of immigration to the United States.

Senator Cotton has justified the proposed legislation, explaining: “The goal here is to get our immigration levels back to historical norms, to take something of a pause to allow the economy to catch up with the immigrants that we have allowed into our country over the last two generations, and to focus on the well-being of American citizens, those citizens who are here today, many of whom are struggling economically.”

Others see the proposed RAISE Act as an unjustified attack on the landmark Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and the efforts to ease the path across the United States borders for people from Asia and Africa, who have generally had limited opportunity to immigrate to the United States. Senators Cotton and Perdue are seen as “a new generation of immigration restrictionists.”

The RAISE Act apparently has the support of high-ranking officials in the Trump administration such as chief strategist Steve Bannon, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, and Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), who was named chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is the largest federal law enforcement agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Many see FAIR is a far-right immigration restrictionist group—and even a hate group.

President Trump has only been president a short time, so it is hard to say how immigration issues will play out while he is in power. What is certain is that immigration has become an even more politically charged topic under his leadership.

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