WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump officially threw his support behind a legal immigration overhaul co-authored by Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue on Wednesday.
The proposal touted at the White House is actually an expanded version of a bill Perdue and his GOP colleague Tom Cotton of Arkansas introduced back in February.
The biggest update to the bill centers on the skilled workers seeking to immigrant to the U.S. permanently.
The new Reforming American Immigration for Strong Economy Act, or RAISE Act, would create a merit-based points system that would prioritize would-be migrants who speak English, are well-educated and possess specific skill sets that U.S. employers cannot find easily here in America. It’s inspired by the systems currently used in Canada and Australia, Perdue’s office said.
It would cap the number of those employment-based visas to 140,000 a year. It would also bar the people who ultimately receive those visas from using welfare and other types of federal benefits for five years after immigrating to America.
Otherwise, the new RAISE Act keeps most of the bill’s original proposals in place. It would:
- Limit the number of refugees admitted annually to 50,000 (compared to the 110,000 refugees then-President Barack Obama announced he would allow in last year).
- Kill the State Department’s Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a popular lottery program that selects roughly 50,000 people annually to permanently live in the U.S., or roughly 0.3 percent of applicants to the program.
- No longer offer green card preference to the extended family or adult children of immigrants already living legally in the U.S. Spouses, children under 18 and sick parents would still be given preference.
It would not touch the system in place for temporary workers, the immigrants farmers rely on heavily for seasonal work.