RAISE Act: Blatantly Discriminatory

The POTUS endorsed a proposed bill today that would drastically revise decades-old immigration policy and limit immigration. The legislation will propose limits such as reducing avenues for permanent resident status for extended family members of citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents, giving preference to English-speakers, and reducing the number of immigrants allowed to enter. This will impact the integrity of immigrant families and favor western Europeans for entry, as well as deny safe haven to people fleeing desperate situations around the world. Expect intending immigrants from the continent of Africa and the Middle-East to be most significantly impacted.

This is something Trump campaigned on, so it should come as no surprise that he supports such legislation. As reported in the Washington Post:

The outlines of the legislation reflect the aims Trump touted on the campaign trail, when he argued that the rapid growth of immigration over the past half century had harmed job opportunities for American workers and led to risks to national security. Trump had met twice previously at the White House with Cotton and Perdue to discuss the details of their legislation, which is titled the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act.

Are these valid concerns?

The types of work that immigrants are most likely to be involved in often coincide with types of work Americans do not prefer to perform. The implication is that, without immigrant workers, some fields might find themselves in a worker shortage. According to Pew Research:

Immigrants are more likely than U.S.-born workers to be employed in a number of specific jobs, including sewing machine operators, plasterers, stucco masons and manicurists. But there are no major U.S. industries in which immigrants outnumber the U.S. born, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.

Other firms hiring immigrant workers with specialized expertise do so primarily due to a lack of qualified candidates in the US. This presents an opportunity for another discussion about the socio-economic state in the US that leads to such a dearth of highly qualified candidates, but for our purposes it is sufficient to realize that the influx of these types of immigrants is an effect rather than a cause.

On the topic of national security and crime risks, we have discussed over and over that the data does not demonstrate a high risk from any immigrant population. Business Insider provides a nice summary of the data, stating:

While Trump’s rhetoric focused on the goal of keeping communities safe from horrific attacks like the one in which 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was killed by an undocumented immigrant in 2015, there’s a glaring problem. While some immigrants certainly commit crimes, decades-worth of data indicate that immigrants commit far less and are far less likely to commit crime than native born Americans. Immigrants are also highly unlikely to commit acts of terrorism.

Like many other policy positions and proposals offered by Trump and members of the GOP, the concerns being addressed are not valid. If the problem is not correctly identified then the proposed solution is of no value.

Unless, of course, those making the proposition understand perfectly well that there is no problem to address, and are instead using fear to motivate people to support blatantly discriminatory policy.

I proposed to some supporters that this policy was blatantly discriminatory, and their responses ranged from “That’s right!” to “America First!” Which is to say, there was no range. Supporters acknowledge that the policy is discriminatory and embrace it for that specific reason.