With all the garbage coming out of the West Wing theses days, you’d be forgiven if you weren’t aware of a piece of pure trash resting in a U.S. Senate committee.
It’s euphemistically called the “Restoring American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” or “RAISE.” It’s the handiwork of Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who, more than occasionally, reminds us of his racist tendencies. Only one other Senator - Purdue of Georgia - has signed on.
Here are the highlights (?) for you to decide if my word “trash” is appropriate. Should RAISE become law, it would create a point system to approve/disapprove applications for entry into the U.S.. Perfect score is 30+. If you want in and have a high-paying job waiting, that’s worth up to 13 points. If you’re close to 25-years-old - or either side of that arbitrary number - you can get 10 points which decline with the age difference. College degrees - especially in STEM - can “earn” 13 points.
If you’re coming to invest $1.35 million in the States, a maximum of 12 points. Extraordinary achievement - Nobel Prize or some such - or if you’re an Olympic athlete can get you 25 points. Speaking English gets 15 points.
So it would seem a 25-year-old English-speaking Olympian with a doctorate and a couple of million bucks would be a shoo-in. But, a high school graduate with a family of five, trying to escape death at home, would be turned away. Not enough points.
But, back to RAISE. Each year, those with the most cumulative points could apply for a green card. Those not scoring high enough could try again next year. Nearly all other employment or country-of-origin caps would be eliminated. H-1B visas - normally associated with high tech skills - India and China - and those with the most students already here - China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Korea - would likely have the most points.
There’s more. RAISE would cut green card issuance in half. It eliminates pathways for siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens and legal temporary residents to apply for permanent lawful residency status, limiting the family path to spouses and minor children. It also would end the visa diversity lottery.
Nearly all economists aware of RAISE say it’s pure trouble. They conclude such a law would likely cause the average American worker to lose wages and other gains.
Opponents say RAISE is a “nativist and xenophobic” attempt to keep out foreigners, including many who would benefit the U.S. and our economy.
It’s interesting to note nothing in RAISE mentions farm workers, a major draw for people coming for work. And, “past may be prologue” here. In 1964, a similar bill was enacted affecting farming. Conservative economist Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute wrote “Instead of hiring more American workers or raising wages, farmers turned to machines and altered crops to take account of the new dearth of workers. Instead of planting crops requiring labor-intensive harvesting or care, they planted crops requiring fewer workers.” Sort of “more potatoes and less radishes.”
Research also strongly indicates RAISE would not only negatively affect the status of millions of legal immigrants and harm the entire national economy, it would also change our entire demographic structure. Sort of like building “the wall” without building “the wall.”
Those supporting RAISE are notably anti-immigration folk. Stephen Miller - White House resident racist - and Steve Bannon - Trump’s political “Captain Destructo”- are lobbying for passage.
All of that - and more - leads me to call RAISE anti-immigrant trash. I suspect most Senators ascribe to that nomenclature since Cotton’s handiwork has languished in committee since a year ago January. He now has a second version which has attracted no other sponsors, either.
Will RAISE get to the floor for a vote? I doubt it. Too vile even for the gutless majority. But, it’s there, like a benign cancer. Now, at least you’ve heard about it.
I’m sticking with the “T” word. What say you?