President Donald Trump teamed up with two Republican senators on Wednesday to unveil his vision for merit-based immigration reform, a policy package that he claims would aid lower- and middle-class Americans who have seen their jobs taken and wages lowered due to cheap-labor immigration policies.
Speaking in the Roosevelt Room of the White House flanked by Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Tom Cotton (R-AK), Trump pledged that the so-called RAISE act “will reduce poverty, increase wages and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.”
“This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first, and that puts America first,” he said.
Trump blasted the current immigration system as one that is stacked in favor of big corporations, who benefit from a massive influx of unskilled workers who will accept measly wages and, in turn, damage the job market for American citizens.
The system “has placed substantial pressure on American workers, taxpayers and community resources, and among those hit the hardest… are minority workers competing for jobs against brand new arrivals,” Trump said. “It has not been fair to our people, to our citizens, to our workers.”
“[The new legislation] will give Americans a pay raise by reducing immigration,” he continued, “[and] it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens.”
Cotton and Perdue initially unveiled the “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act” back in February and claimed that it would “help raise the American workers’ wages by restoring legal immigration levels to their historical norms and rebalancing the system toward employment-based visas and immediate-family household members.”
Under the Raise Act, prospective immigrants would be subject to a point-based system that would allocate more points to highly-skilled workers, a system that Trump claimed would reduce the number of immigrants who receive government benefits.
In July, Cotton’s office confirmed that the bill’s goal is to reduce legal immigration by 50 percent by clamping down on immigration methods that are not based on family or professional skills, CNN reported.
The bill would also do away with the international diversity visa lottery, limit the number of annual refugee admissions, and restrict the types of family members the immigrants can bring into the U.S. to spouses and minor children.