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Groups Slam Trump's Legal Immigration Proposal

President Trump has proposed restrictions to legal immigration that would greatly affect family members of American citizens and legal permanent residents. (Kconnors/morguefile)
President Trump has proposed restrictions to legal immigration that would greatly affect family members of American citizens and legal permanent residents. (Kconnors/morguefile)
August 3, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Nevadans with family abroad may have a much harder time bringing parents, grandparents or siblings to the U.S. if a bill President Trump endorsed on Wednesday becomes law.

The so-called RAISE Act aims to cut the number of legal immigrants in half, mainly by disallowing certain categories of family members who can be sponsored by their American relatives. The bill would favor high-skilled English-speaking migrants.

The president said the move would save American jobs. But Randy Capps, director of research for the Migration Policy Institute, said the million or so legal immigrants the U.S. takes in each year make positive contributions.

"Research has generally shown that immigrants help the U.S. economy, that they have a wide variety of skills - some are highly skilled, some are less skilled - and that they spend money in the economy that leads to the creation of other jobs,” Capps said.

He said legal immigrants do introduce competition for people without a high school degree, but added that the strong economy makes the issue of competition weak right now.

The RAISE Act would severely curtail the flow of refugees and eliminate 50,000 green cards a year that now go to people from underrepresented countries, mostly in Africa and Asia.

Trump has said he admires the point-based system used in Canada and Australia to attract educated workers. But Capps said that could mean those immigrants would have a harder time connecting to their new communities.

"Changing the whole structure to be based simply on point systems could result in people that don't have as good ties to the U.S. when they arrive and actually increase the likelihood that they could be dependent on benefits and have more difficulty integrating in the short run,” Capps said.

Proponents of the RAISE Act also claim it will lessen the burden on social services. Nevada does not provide food stamps or welfare benefits to newly arrived adults until they've been in the U.S. for five years. However, a bill that took effect last month does extend Medicaid health coverage to children of legal immigrants upon arrival.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV