by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Shortly after Arkansas senator Tom Cotton and Georgia senator David Perdue released the RAISE Act, a bill that would, among other things, sharply reduce legal-immigration levels, it occurred to me that its very reasonableness was, to use the language of the moment, triggering. In an interview with MSNBC, Luis Gutiérrez, a Democratic congressman from Chicago, denounced the bill as racist. So too did Republican strategist Ana Navarro, herself a Nicaraguan immigrant and a fixture on CNN. And they were hardly alone, as evidenced by thousands of tweets, retweets, and Facebook missives from distinguished members of America’s scrupulously objective press corps.
The premise behind the RAISE Act is that we ought to move away from selecting immigrants mostly on the basis of family ties to selecting them on the basis of their earning potential. I’ve long believed an immigration reform along these lines is urgently necessary. Indeed, one could argue that the RAISE Act represents a long-overdue correction of a mistake made decades ago—a mistake made, funnily enough, by immigration restrictionists of an earlier era. …
… The bill also aims to modernize employment-based immigration by establishing a points system, which would give applicants points on the basis of their age, educational credentials, English-language fluency, salary offers from U.S. employers, and more. The goal of the points system is to identify immigrants who will at a minimum be in a position to provide for themselves and their families, which already narrows the pool of applicants dramatically, and ideally to identify those who will make the most substantial economic contributions.