Skip to main content
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

How Would a 'Merit-Based' System Change Immigration?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on August 03, 2017 2:12 PM

President Donald Trump hasn't been shy about his stance on immigration. He's trying to block refugees and immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries, he wants to build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, and his Department of Homeland Security rolled back an Obama-era program that protected immigrant parents of a citizen or legal resident children.

Then this week he threw his support behind legislation that would slash legal immigration while altering the criteria for entry. Here's what the so-called RAISE Act would do.

Need a RAISE?

Introduced by GOP Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act bills itself as a "merit-based" immigration plan that would put a greater emphasis on a potential immigrant's job skills, education levels, and the ability to speak English rather than their ties to family in the United States. The bill would also cap the number of refugees at 50,000 per year and eliminate a visa lottery that awards green cards to people in areas with fewer immigrants.

Politico estimates that the bill would cut legal immigration in half over the next ten years. Trump said the RAISE Act "ends chain migration" (referring to current immigration policies giving preference to family members of those already in the country), and claims it "would represent the most significant reform to our immigration system in a half a century."

Tough Job

But the proposed legislation is far from a done deal. Politico notes there will be strong opposition from Democrats and pro-immigration Republicans, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who said the Act "would be devastating to our state's economy." And the Washington Post reported the bill "faces dim prospects in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority and would have difficulty reaching 60 votes to fend off a filibuster."

There also seems to be some disagreement on the economic impact of the legislation. While Trump, Cotton, and Perdue claimed a reduction in legal immigration and skills-based admissions criteria would mean higher wages for American workers and promote economic growth overall, Politico points out that nearly all economists agree that "economic growth will require a large expansion of the U.S. workforce."

For now, the immigration process remains unchanged. But should the RAISE Act pass in its current or altered form, you may want to consult an experienced immigration attorney about your status and application.

Related Resources:

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard