By Robert Miranda
SJNN – President Trump announced this week he will support a revised Senate bill that would implement a merit-based point system for foreigners who apply for legal permanent status, or green cards, through their employer.
“This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century but the bonds of trust between America and its citizens. This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and America first,” Trump said during a press conference at the White House. “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.”
The president’s support for the legislation comes amid his stated push to crack down on illegal immigration and boost opportunities for American workers.
Trump met with members of Congress in March to discuss the creation of the legislation, known as the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act.
However critics have argued that it could potentially cut off the flow of lower-skilled workers to key industries and harm the U.S. economy.
But other Republican lawmakers said the bill might be going too far. Senator Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, said his state is dependent on immigrant labor to sustain the two biggest sectors of the economy, agriculture and tourism.
Economists have called into question the benefits of cutting legal immigration. FWD.us, a group that represents the tech industry said that the bill would “severely harm the economy.”
The bill aims to end the diversity visa lottery, which allows 50,000 people from underrepresented countries to obtain green cards.
It also sets a 50,000 annual cap on refugees, instead of a level mandated by the president.
Groups that want stricter immigration laws have expressed support for the new legislation. NumbersUSA president Roy Beck said in a statement that the RAISE Act “will do more than any other action to fulfill President Trump’s promises as a candidate to create an immigration system that puts the interests of American workers first.”
Sen. Perdue, R-Georgia, also rejected criticism of the proposed legislation. He said he does not believe the RAISE Act would unfairly discriminate against Latino workers, who accounted for 48.3 percent of the foreign-born labor force in 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“I don’t see that that’s well founded at all,” Perdue said. “What this does is let everyone compete individually.”