Trump-supported RAISE Act against South Asians: SAALT

Thursday, Aug 3, 2017,12:31 IST By anju A A A

Washington | The RAISE Act, supported by US President Donald Trump, that would cut in half the number of legal immigrants allowed into the US while moving to a “merit-based” system favouring English-speaking skilled workers for residency cards, would hit the South Asian community, a top American non-profit body has claimed.

If passed by the Congress and signed into law, the legislation titled the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act would significantly reduce the number of immigrants who can obtain green cards and other visas and would cut the number of legal immigrants allowed in the US by 40 per cent in the first year and by 50 per cent over a decade, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national South Asian civil rights organisation said yesterday.

The RAISE Act – authored by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue — would eliminate preferences for extended family members similar to the ‘Muslim ban’, eliminate the diversity visa lottery, limit refugees offered permanent residency to 50,000 per year, and institute a ‘skills-based points’ merit system, SAALT said in a statement.

Policies that break families apart and create false divisions among immigrants based on flawed notions of meritocracy do not live up to these values,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, director of National Policy and Advocacy at SAALT.

“The draconian use of legislation and executive orders to criminalise and marginalise immigrant communities reveals the inherent xenophobia of this administration,” she said, noting that America is a nation of values, founded on an idea that all people are created equal.

“From bans to walls to raids to this current focus on slashing green card numbers, there is a concerted effort to purge immigrants from our nation. We must resist all efforts to diminish immigrant communities and divide American-born and immigrant workers,” Sridaran said.

Numbering over 4.3 million, the South Asians are the fastest growing demographic group in the US, with the majority of the communities foreign-born, SAALT said.

However, the Trump administration came in for praise from several other quarters.

Federation for American Immigration Reform President Dan Stein said the RAISE Act ends chain-migration by limiting family-based immigration to the nuclear family and replacing the employment-based system with a skills-based point structure.

“It helps select immigrants who have the tools to succeed in the US while returning immigration to more traditional levels,” Stein said.

He applauded Trump and bill sponsors Senators Cotton and Perdue for recognising “the current dysfunction of our outdated immigration policies” that, Stein said, unlike the rest of the nation, have been stuck in a time warp for the last 50 years.

According to NumbersUSA president Roy Beck, the RAISE Act will do more than any other action to fulfil Trump’s promises as a candidate to create an immigration system that puts the interests of American workers first.

“Our recent polling confirms that American voters overwhelmingly want far less immigration because they know mass immigration creates unfair competition for American workers,” he said.

“Seeing the president standing with the bill’s sponsors at the White House gives hope to the tens of millions of struggling Americans in stagnant jobs or outside the labour market altogether,” Beck said.