The “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” (“RAISE Act”), re-introduced in August 2017 by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Senator David Perdue (R-GA), would decimate the family-based immigration system and cut in half the number of green cards available in any given year. It would also end the diversity lottery and limit the number of refugees welcomed to the U.S. to 50,000 per year.
The RAISE Act would disproportionately affect Asian Americans and immigrants. Two-thirds of Asian Americans are immigrants, and 92 percent of Asian Americans are immigrants or the children of immigrants. The vast majority of Asian immigrants have come to the U.S. through the family-based immigration system; in 2016, 82.1% of visas issued for Asian countries were family-based. There are over 2 million Asians waiting in the visa backlogs to immigrate. Most of them would be cut off by this bill. For more information on this bill, please see our analysis and talking points available here.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, UnidosUS, Hispanic Federation, We Belong Together, and the Black Alliance for Justice Immigration (BAJI) are collaborating to collect signatures on this petition to Congressional Leaders urging them to oppose the RAISE Act. Each organization will collect signatures through its own networks, which we will deliver jointly on a date TBA. A copy of the final petition will be sent to all Senators and Members of Congress.
Join us is telling Congress to reject the RAISE Act by signing on to our letter below.
Dear Leader McConnell; Minority Leader Schumer; Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi:
We write to express our strong opposition to the RAISE Act. We stand together in support of immigrants generally and family immigration, refugee resettlement, and the diversity lottery specifically. We urge you stand to in opposition to this legislation and in support of immigrants who make our country stronger.
The RAISE Act would move the country in the wrong direction. This bill is not focused on economic prosperity but rather on a restrictionist view of immigration. The bill would cut immigration by 60 - 70%, end the family immigration system and the diversity lottery, and permanently cap refugees at 50,000 per year. It would also replace the employment-based immigration system with a point-based system, preferring highly educated and highly paid immigrants.
Family is the central institution in our society. Family members provide care for children and sick and elderly relatives so that other family members can work. Cutting opportunities for adult children, siblings and parents to immigrate will affect Americans’ well-being and prosperity. Creating a temporary visa for parents and prohibiting them from working or ever becoming citizens is offensive and reminiscent of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the xenophobic law that prevented immigration from China and blocked those already here from becoming citizens, and the notoriously abusive Bracero program which brought in hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers, primarily to work in agriculture, but did not offer them a path to citizenship.
Immigrants are good for our economy. Together, families buy homes and start businesses that create jobs. Many immigrant business owners came through these pathways or sponsored family members who help with their businesses. It is also vital that the U.S. continues to be a safe haven for those seeking refuge from violence and persecution and that those refugees are able to reunite with family members.
We take pride in the idea of America as a land of opportunity for all. We are further concerned that a “merit-based system” will prioritize the immigration of men over women due to gender discrimination in other countries where women do not have equal educational or employment opportunities.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 ended racist immigration quotas that gave preference to Northern and Western European immigrants, and since its enactment, has led to the vibrant and diverse immigrant communities in our country today, to include those from Asia and the Pacific Islands, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. To end that system would be a grave mistake harming the very soul of our nation.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation's members are: Advancing Justice - AAJC (Washington, D.C.), Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, Advancing Justice - Atlanta, Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), and Advancing Justice - Chicago.