Trump, senators unveil bill to slash legal immigration to US

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The bill is expected to half the number of immigrants legally admitted to the USA over the next decade, the Hill explains: Earlier this year Cotton and Perdue introduced legislation that they said would effectively halve the number of green cards issued each year from 1 million to roughly 500,000.

Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga, have been working with the Trump administration to refine a bill they first introduced in February that aims to cut immigration by half from the current level of more than 1 million green cards per year granting foreigners permanent legal residence in the United States.

Immigration restrictionists were elated over the re-introduction of the RAISE Act, noting that it would limit "immigration rights" to immediate family members like spouses and children.

The White House said the RAISE Act is "aimed at creating a skills-based immigration system that will make America more competitive, raise wages for American workers, and create jobs".

The legislation also proposed to limit green cards to 50,000 refugees a year, which is in line with the 13-year average. "The RAISE Act will increase wages, decrease poverty and save taxpayers billions of billions of dollars".

NumbersUSA President Roy Beck hailed the bill and said that it "will do more than any other action to fulfill President Trump's promises as a candidate". John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of SC, and many Senate Democrats oppose making partial changes to immigration law without creating a pathway to legal status for immigrants who arrived in the country illegally and put down roots.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement the proposal would "help the Department of Justice perform its duties to uphold our nation's immigration law and end the unlawful abuse of our public benefits program that undermine USA taxpayers".

The GOP legislation would eliminate programs that grant low-skilled immigrants permanent residency and would prioritize applicants who are fluent in English, are financially self-sufficient and have a demonstrable skill. That bill, which was also introduced by Cotton and Perdue, argued that the current amount of people coming into the US contributes to declining wages of Americans with high school diplomas.

The over-arching goal for the Cotton-Perdue bill, the official said, is to install a system where immigrants are allowed into the country based on their skills and contributions, as opposed to familial connections or a lottery.

The current USA immigration system favours uniting family members with relatives already in the country.

"Our system is broken, but the response should be to modernize it, not take a sledgehammer to it", said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of New American Economy, a group of business leaders, mayors and others backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform. They say the legislation would disproportionately affect immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and African and Caribbean countries. As a candidate, I campaigned on creating a merit-based immigration system that protects USA workers and taxpayers - and that is why we are here today. The chart below from Deutsche Bank economist Torsten Slok shows just how misguided a more restrictive immigration policy would be from a purely demographic perspective - just imagine the long-run hit to growth. "This is different than illegal immigration".

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