President Donald Trump has thrown his support behind a Senate bill that would slash the level of legal immigration into the U.S. by one-half over the course of a decade. The potentially controversial legislation would dramatically tilt American immigration law towards a more merit-based system.
On Aug. 2, Trump unveiled a revised version of The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act alongside the bill's co-authors, GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. Cotton and Perdue had introduced an original version of the bill in February but tweaked it after the legislation failed to gain traction among fellow Senate Republicans.
"The RAISE Act ends chain migration and replaces our low-skilled system with a new points-based system ... It will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens," Trump said during the press conference, according to Business Insider.
The legislation would eliminate programs that grant low-skilled immigrants permanent residency and would prioritize applicants who are fluent in English, are financially self-sufficient and have a demonstrable skill.
"This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy," Trump continued, according to ABC News.
The president added that the bill would aim to "help ensure that newcomers to our country will be assimilated, will succeed and will achieve the American dream."
The stated goal of the legislation is to reduce the level of legal immigration by 50 percent. Cotton and Perdue estimated their proposals would cut down the numberof applicants admitted into the U.S. from roughly 1 million in 2015 to roughly 500,000 by 2027.
The RAISE Act would also put dramatic limits on permanent residents bringing their family members into the country. The bill would only allow for spouses and young children to move to the U.S. and join their green card-holding sponsor. The legislation would also cap the number of refugees admitted into the country at 50,000 per year.
Cotton and Perdue's bill is likely to face the same uphill climb in the Senate that it had in February. While the GOP majority in Congress has been supportive of Trump's efforts to curb illegal immigration, the majority of conservative lawmakers have been more reticent to reduce legal immigration.
Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies asserted that the bill would dramatically reduce the availability of cheap labor in the U.S. and fundamentally alter the fabric of the country's values.
"This is just a fundamental restructuring of our immigration system which has huge implications for the future," Appleby told The Washington Post. "This is part of a broader strategy by this administration to rid the country of low-skilled immigrants they don't favor in favor of immigrants in their image."