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The RAISE Act - Proposed Legislation Would Make Major Changes to US Immigration

08/01/18
By:  James Pittman

The immigration policy preferences of the Trump administration are embodied in the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, a piece of proposed legislation which has been introduced into Congress by Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. The RAISE Act would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program, to limit the President’s discretion in setting the number of refugees admitted annually to the United States, to reduce the number of family-sponsored immigrants, to create a new nonimmigrant classification for the parents of adult United States citizens, and for other purposes.  Specifically, the bill would:  
  • cut legal immigration by half, reducing the number of green cards from more than 1 million to about 500,000
  • lower capped family categories from 226,000 green cards presently to 88,000  
  • remove pathways for siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to apply for permanent lawful residency status in the U.S.
  • eliminate all family sponsorship beyond spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens and LPRs
  • reducing the age limit for minor children from 21 to 18
  • eliminate the “parents of US citizens” category of permanent immigration, instead allowing them to come for five years at a time uner a renewable “W-visa” while requiring U.S. sponsors to demonstrate  the parents have health-care coverage and accept full responsibility for their parent’s economic support. Parents would be barred from any public benefit, even provided by a state or local government (a provision that will probably  be challenged in the courts)
  • create a “points system” for the selection of immigrants coming via employer sponsorship
  • impose a cap of 50,000 refugee admissions a year 
  • eliminate the Diversity Visa lottery
  • invalidates any petition in a category being eliminated by the RAISE Act (and any application for an immigrant visa based on such a petition) if the petition was filed after August 2, 2017, the date the RAISE Act bill was introduced into Congress
  • prohibits naturalization of a person, if they ever received means tested public benefits while a permanent resident unless the sponsor on their affidavit of support has reimbursed the federal government the cost of such benefits 
These changes would be the most significant alterations to the Immigration and Nationality Act since the current version of the Act, which created our present family-based immigration system, was passed in 1965.  The RAISE Act is nowhere close to being passed at the time of this writing, and seems to lack enough support at the present time to be put to a vote in the Senate.

James Pittman is co-founder of Docketwise and was previously engaged in the private practice of US Immigration Law. He also regularly teaches Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes on immigration law topics and legal ethics. He is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey and is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law.