(ESPAÑOL) As the immigration debate continues, two Republican senators proposed a bill concerning legal immigration.
Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia argue the current amount of legal immigration is bloated with low-skilled labor and has contributed to the declining wages of Americans with high school diplomas or less.
“It’s pulling the rug out from underneath them, and unless we reverse this trend, we’re going to create a near permanent underclass for whom the American dream is always just out of reach,” Cotton said at a news conference introducing the bill.
The senators want to roll back legal immigration in a three-pronged approach that aims to cut the number of immigrants by half, to 500,000 annually. They say their plan would not touch visa programs for high-skilled workers.
The bill, “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” (RAISE Act), would limit the number of family-based visas so that only spouses and unmarried minor children of citizens and permanent residents can get green cards. Currently the law also allows for parents of citizens, as well as siblings, both married and unmarried children over 21, along with their spouses and minor children.
One exception would be allowed. Elderly parents in need of caretaking would be able to get renewable temporary visas, but the parents would not be allowed to work, receive public benefits, and they would have to show guaranteed support of health insurance by the sponsoring children.
The two senators also want to nix the diversity lottery, which grants 50,000 visas each year to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
Thirdly, their bill would cap the refugee program at 50,000. According to Pew, the US allowed in 84,995 refugees in the fiscal year which ended in September 2016, the most in any year during the Obama administration.