Major CEOs say bill would harm tech industry; policy has roots in racist organizaitons
By Miriam Raftery
August 3, 2017 (Washington D.C.) – Going far beyond rounding up undocumented immigrations, President Donald Trump is now backing a bill that aims to cut legal immigration in half. It proposes a skills-based immigration system that includes English proficiency and job skills, also prohibiting immigrants from bringing any family members here except for spouse and minor children.
The RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act) requirements are so strict that they would have barred President Trump’s own grandfather from coming to America, who did not speak English at the time, as well as ancestors of many other cabinet officials, the Washington Post reports.
It would impose a grading system for new immigrants to be judged on their median salary, advanced degrees, ability to speak English, skills needed by the economy, and whether they can afford to buy healthcare, CNN reports. The bill was introduced by Republican Senators David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
That’s a far cry from the promise on the Statue of Liberty, which reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
The measure, if in place a few decades ago, would have prevented this news editor’s grandparents from entering the U.S. They were dirt poor and spoke no English, fleeing oppression in Europe. Their youngest son, my father, became an aerospace engineer who designed flight paths for most of the Atlas, Mercury, Gemini and some Apollo space missions.
Trump’s top policy aide, Stephen Miller called the measure “a major promise to the American people to push for merit-based immigration reform that protects U.s. workers, protects U.S. taxpayers, and protects the U.S. economy, and that prioritizes the needs of our own citizens…”
But Wired.com reports that high tech leaders oppose the measure and believe it will harm, not help, the U.S. economy and make it hard to fill the many jobs in the high tech business since top workers won’t want to come here if it means splitting up their families.
“We should make it easier for people to come here and contribute, not just eliminate the family-based immigration system and pretend that’s a more merit-based system,” says Todd Schulte, president of the bipartisan immigration lobbying firm FWD.us founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other tech industry leaders.
PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, who arrived in the U.S. as a refugee granted asylum, says this measure would “severely harm our economic growth and eliminate our greatest global economic competitive advantage: our ability to attract the best and brightest.”
By forcing even legal, highly skilled immigrants to “kiss their families goodbye” the bill would likely result in more immigrants bypassing the U.S. to settle in Canada, where new visa programs have made the nation a haven to tech entrepreneurs choosing Canada over the U.S.
AOL cofounder Steve Case observes that “40 percent of Fortune 500 businesses were started by immigrants and their children,” adding that the RAISE Act could “repel the very talent that we want to attract.”
Some assert that the measure is motivated not by economic incentives, but by racism. The RAISE ACT bears close resemblance to proposals touted on anti-immigration organizations including such listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those groups were the brainchild of John Tanton, who has touted racism and anti-immigrant policies. He has advocated “passive eugenics”, argued that Hitler gave eugenics a bad rap, and has been funded for nearly four decades by groups advocating racially-oriented population control.
The RAISE Act, however, may well be quashed by Congress.
CNN reports that the bill is a longshot that has drawn opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), whose district includes much of East County as well as San Diego communities, issued a statement denouncing the RAISE act. ““We've long been told that this Administration's hateful rhetoric about immigration is only aimed at preventing illegal immigration,” she notes.
The Congresswoman concludes, “This is a clear sign that the President has no intention of bringing forward comprehensive immigration reform that creates legal streamlined processes while acknowledging the immense value that immigrants bring to our communities.”