I don’t think this immigration bill is going to do what President Trump thinks it’s going to do.
President Trump announced on Aug. 2 that he is in support of a new immigration bill that by the year 2027 would cut legal immigration by 50 percent.
Trump endorses the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act co-authored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, promising that it would reduce the number of family members American citizens and legal residents can bring into the country, would reduce the number of refugees the country permits through its borders and plans to favor more high-skilled workers.
In his press briefing, the president outlined that the bill would create a “new points-based system for applicants seeking to become legal permanent residents, favoring those who can speak English, can financially support themselves and offer skills that would contribute to the U.S. economy.”
In 2015, a little more than 1 million green cards were issued to immigrants.
As a result, this bill wouldn’t dole out as many cards and – in theory – will create a more equitable system for American citizens and, as the president sees it, will “reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.”
Well, not so. Here are 4 misconceptions Mr. President has about this bill. He should probably do some more digging.
1. It Won’t help with the welfare problem, Mr. President
At the press announcement, Trump offered his base some real assurances about the RAISE Act.
“That’s a very big thing. They’re not gonna come in and just immediately go and collect welfare. That doesn’t happen under the RAISE Act. They can’t do that.”
But, they already can’t do that, Mr. President.
Under current U.S. law, in order for a legal immigrant to apply for government benefits, they must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. It’s a big misconception that right-wing bandwagoners have about immigrants.
Even after writing my book HOLA America: Guts, Grit, Grind and Further Traits in the Successful American Immigrant, I interviewed hundreds of immigrants who, not only had never even considered applying for welfare, they are insulted that you would even purport that they would leave the familiarity of their families, friends and customs to come to a place as initimidating as America to “sponge off the government.” Ludicrous, they say.
2. It Won’t Help Our Agricultural Sector, Mr. President
Who’s going to pick your strawberries, sir? I’m sure you won’t.
Even fellow Republican senators like Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Lindsey Graham have voiced skepticism about the plan.
In a statement released Wednesday, Graham of South Carolina said his state's economy stands to lose if the bill passes.
"South Carolina’s number one industry is agriculture and tourism is number two. If this proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state’s economy which relies on this immigrant workforce," Graham said in the media release.
In fact, Graham expressed how South Carolina’s agriculture and tourism industry has tried to advertise for American workers to fill vacant positions, but “unfortunately, many of these advertised positions go unfilled.”
"Hotels, restaurants, golf courses and farmers will tell you this proposal — to cut legal immigration in half — would put their business in peril," he stated.
The fact is the same goes for California, Florida and Texas growers.
This bill would destabilize our agricultural sector and, even if it does succeed, are Americans ready to pay a premium for their produce just to say it was picked by an American?
3. It Won’t Help Our Wages, Mr. President
The bill's supporters say it would make the U.S. more competitive, raise wages and create jobs.
Yet, most economists dispute this theory. According to the research, immigration - in recent decades - doesn't appear to have meaningfully hurt wages in the long run. On the contrary, increased immigration has actually helped to facilitate faster growth because the country is adding workers.
The bill plans to eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery and limit residency offers for refugees.
Economists say that restricting the number of immigrants could – in reality - slow the economy's potential to expand.
4. It Won’t Help Our High Skilled Workers Get Jobs, Mr. President
Has Donald Trump actually met and/or gone to school with immigrants? I’m talking high-achieving Iranians, Nigerians, Jamaicans, Indians and Chinese.
I think our dear president is mischaracterizing many of the immigrants coming to the United States as low-skilled and dependent on government aid. But, that’s not actually the most common immigrant seeking entry.
The Pew Research Center said in 2015 that 41 percent of immigrants who had arrived in the past five years held a college degree.
This is in fact much higher than the 30 percent of non-immigrant degree holders in the United States.
What’s more, a stunning 18 percent held an advanced degree, also much higher than the U.S. average. Ouch.
So, Mr. President, you may be making it more difficult than it already is for Ben Sullivan, a mere baccalaureate graduate in IT, to vy for his first job out of college. I mean, think about it, you’re requiring that immigrants speak English, be financially stable and have high skills. Do you actually KNOW the spirit of an immigrant? They’ll do whatever they have to. I’m talking enroll in college, take English language classes at night, stack money in their bank accounts – all in hopes of earning that golden ticket called a green card.
The question is - would Ben Sullivan do the same?
TIffani Knowles is the managing editor and founder of NEWD Magazine. Her hope is to become as "newd" as possible on a daily by embracing truth, authenticity and socio-spiritual awareness. She is bi-vocational as she is the owner of two businesses and a professor of Communication at Barry University in Miami, Florida. She is also the co-author of HOLA America: Guts, Grit, Grind and Further Traits in the Successful American Immigrant.