There will be a flurry of flak hitting the new immigration policy endorsed by the White House. President Donald Trump announced yesterday that he supported legislation that would drastically slash legal immigration to the United States by up to fifty percent in the coming decade.
The bill known as the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and David Perdue (R-Georgia) would end the visa diversity lottery that allocates 50,000 visas each year, limit refugees to 50,000 per year, and institute a skill based formula for determining whether to allow immigrants to enter our country.
In sum, the bill would radically reshape America's immigration system – for the worse. The bill should be opposed for three reasons: it's bad for business, demographics, and our "melting pot" culture.
First, the bill would further slow American entrepreneurialism. The number of startups in America is at a forty-year low. Immigrants are inherent risk takers, having left behind the familiarity of their homeland for the possibility of success in the United States. America's workforce is 15 percent composed of immigrants, yet they make up about 25 percent of entrepreneurs, and they account for about 25 percent of patent filings.
Some 3.6 million workers are employed at Fortune 500 companies started by immigrants.These companies include Google, co-founded by Sergey Brin from Russia; eBay, founded by Pierre Omidyar from France; and even AT&T, founded by Alexander Graham Bell from Scotland.
These startup founders may never have passed this skill-based test that the RAISE Act mandates. Such a test would have a chilling effect on overall immigration, at a time when America needs more risk takers.
To be sure, a meritocratic system has appeal, and those who support the RAISE Act cite the fact that Canada and Australia already employ such a skill based system. But these countries already accept more than twice the number of immigrants than the United States, on a per capita basis. If a skill-based policy could become part of a compassionate immigration policy, that would be both rational and in keeping with America's moral idealism. But there's little chance of that in the current anti-immigration climate.