Where is Immigration Reform now?
Where is Immigration Reform now?
One of the most significant acts that have marked Donald Trump’s administration is the drastic change in immigration laws. The administration has made it harder for immigrants to find their way into the United States. There have not been immigration reforms in the United States for more than half a century. RunRex.com dives into this issue to give a picture of where the United States immigration reforms are now.
On Wednesday 2nd August 2017, Donald Trump and GOP senators David Perdue and Tom Cotton introduced a bill in the Senate to push for new immigration policies. The bill was meant to overhaul the entire United States immigration system by establishing new policies to govern it. The bills proposed a departure from the old policies that have been in existence for over half a century by calling for the set legal immigration levels to be slashed. The bill pushes for a merit-based immigration system that would focus and put more emphasis on the foreigner’s job skills as opposed to their ties to their family based in the United States.
The reasoning behind the bill is that immigration laws should take on an approach that betters the economy of the United States by making it more competitive, create jobs mostly for the American population and also raise wages for Americans. One of the items on Trump’s campaign agenda was to make America great again by raising the wages of American workers. The facilitators of the bill showcased it as one of the ways they can accomplish this.
Before the legislation, the number of people being awarded permanent residence in the United States by qualifying for a Green Card was over 1 million every year. In fact, the number of green card applicants has been rising over the years allowing more immigrants into the United States. This is one of the changes that the legislation seeks to make. The proposal is that the number be slashed by about a half from the current over 1 million green cards annually to just over 500,000. Trump was very vocal on how immigrants flock the United States and harm the job opportunities that should have been for Americans instead. This bill is yet another way he hopes to fulfill his campaign pledges.
The prospects of the bill being adopted by the senate are very slim given that the Republicans have a narrow majority. It will be quite hard for it to get 60 votes in the house. Critics of the bill see it as a veiled effort by the administration to constrict the flow of immigrants into the United States. The bill is a product of revisiting of the 1965 Immigration Act that made America “more welcoming”. It proposes changes that are very drastic. According to critics, the changes may seem appealing to Trump supporters and the administration but may bear adverse consequences that may not be predicted easily. The 1965 reforms being a point of reference, changing immigration policies is not a matter that can be altered for promise sake. There are always unintended consequences, often dramatic, that come with it.
One of the consequences that were as a result of the 1965 act is that the number of immigrants has quadrupled four decades down the line after it was enacted. This is because the allocation of visa shifted from being on the basis of national origin to an equal approach. Before, immigrants were mostly whites from Europe and the north. But in this decade, 9 of 10 immigrants getting into the United States are from countries other than Europe and the northern countries that were initially given preferential treatment.
Critics from the economic sector argue that immigration is more beneficial to the economy than harmful. It is more closely associated with job creation and not job loss. The less educated natives are the only segment of the population that stands to be negatively affected when it comes to preference in the job market.
When you go back in history to the 1965 immigration reforms and find the motivation behind it, you will find out that the goals set then were almost similar to what this Trump-sponsored bill’s goals are – favoring skills of the immigrants over their family ties. The 2017 bill aims to maintain the current demographic characteristic of the United States by undoing the unintended consequences that came with the 1965 immigration amendments. But when you come to think of it, the bill could have similar unintended consequences as the ones that the bill passed over half a century ago had.
Drafters of the bill are clearly of the view that having drastic changes in the immigration laws will help maintain the current demographic composition of the United States and making it less diverse. However, in as much as the number of people entering the United States will be reduced by about a half, the same could result in a further and unintended reshape of the US population.