Many of you reading this today likely know that Donald Trump embraced a merit based immigration policy that was proposed by Tom Cotton and David Perdue, both Republicans. Before we go further into this discussion I want to be perfectly clear, it has been my contention that the Republicans have been the only ones to embrace immigration reform in the United States. The Republicans, especially under Ronald Reagan, enacted immigration reform that although not perfect it was good for the country and for México. The Democrats have not offered meaningful immigration reform, not even when they controlled Congress, so today’s post has nothing to do with Democrats versus Republicans.
A merit based immigration policy sounds like the perfect answer to the country’s immigration discord. That is until you understand that the point system makes it untenable even for the First Lady, Melania Trump, to qualify to immigrate to the United States under the proposed system. Melania Trump does not hold a college degree and as such would be excluded under the proposed RAISE Act because of the point system.
The problem with the RAISE Act is not that it is merit based, but rather that its point system outlines a system that excludes almost every immigrant. Forget the rhetoric about speaking English or having the wherewithal to make a living and focus on how the outlined point system discourages the very immigrants that drives the country’s economy.
It is the economy that many nativists, those who are opposed to immigration, see as the underlining issue they have with immigration. Nativists want only immigrants that look like them and act like them while pretending they want qualified immigrants to shore up the country. Thus, the proposed point system ignores the fundamental economic needs of the country and creates an illusion of a highly qualified immigrant that speaks perfect English.
Under the RAISE Act, an immigrant needs 30 points to qualify for a green card.
Today, under the RAISE Act, I would not qualify to immigrate because under the proposed point system I score 24 points. I believe that although my grammar may not be perfect, I nonetheless qualify for the highest English proficiency in the scheme. But my current age penalizes me. I would have barely qualified with 30 points at the age I immigrated to the country because of my STEM degree.
Of course, none of this is a problem if I had over 1 million dollars to invest in a business because $1.3 million would allocate 6 points to me, or $1.8 million would give me 12 points. Chinese or Russian investors anyone? Or, how about Mexican drug lords?
But the issue is much more insidious than that.
Most economic immigrants immigrate for work. They are low skilled workers looking to fill a needed void in the U.S. workforce. Although there is the notion that there are U.S. workers willing to toil the fields or work as cooks and busboys, or clean up hotel rooms, the fact remains that this is not true. Donald Trump’s hotel is actively seeking permission to import those workers today.
Trump’s alma mater, the Wharton School, released a report yesterday showing that the RAISE Act would result in the loss of 4.6 million jobs and a contraction of the country’s economy by 2%. As the report states, fewer workers results in less economic growth.
But the issue is not just low-skilled workers. Immigrants, like me, employ one of ten U.S. workers because we tend to be entrepreneurs and build businesses. Immigrants own more than a quarter of all the small businesses in the country. Grocery stores and restaurants dominate immigrant businesses.
Most of the immigrants, including myself, lack access to capital of over one million dollars and as a result, under the proposed merit based immigration system, we would not have created the U.S. jobs that U.S. families depend on for their family’s sustenance.
A properly formulated merit based system would consider the economic needs of the country and allow immigrants willing to work the fields and toil in restaurants and hotels to fuel the country’s economic engine.
But, it is not about a merit based system to fairly treat immigrants.
Rather, it is a merit-based system designed to pretend that Trump and surrogates want qualified immigrants to come to the country, when what they want are English-speaking rich people, regardless of how they acquired to their wealth, to come.
Consider the English point provisions.
In terms of population, the United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world after México. As such, why no points for Spanish speakers? This fact clearly proves that the proponents of the current merit system aren’t looking for qualified immigrants, but rather immigrants that fill the Anglo-centric mold that Trump and surrogates so desperately want.
Under the RAISE Act, brown people and Mexicans needn’t bother to apply.