By David M. Sperling
The recent introduction of a highly restrictive immigration bill is a terrible idea in many ways.
The RAISE Act, introduced on Aug. 2 and promoted by the Trump administration, would cut legal immigration in half, eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery and eliminate certain categories for family sponsorship.
First of all, legal immigration is indisputably good for the U.S. economy. Many of the most innovative companies in the United States — including Google, Intel and Tesla — were founded by immigrants.
It is tragic that many foreign students are unable to obtain needed H-1B and other job-related visas and Green Cards. To cut the existing level by half would be disastrous.
Furthermore, immigrants — both legal and unauthorized, help shore up Social Security’s finances. Those working with false Social Security numbers will never receive any benefits, but are paying into a system that helps keep the Social Security system in good financial health.
The RAISE Act also creates a skills-based immigration system that favors educated and skilled workers while limiting family-based immigration, by, for example, eliminating visas for brothers and sisters of U.S. Citizens.
A skills-based immigration system is not a bad idea, but in practice the RAISE Act would not increase the absolute number of skilled immigrants, while at the same time cutting other family-based green cards.
An estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants live in the United States, many of whom are skilled and have a long track record of paying taxes and obeying the law. Furthermore, they already have deep roots in the country, and in many cases, U.S. Citizen children and spouses.
A broad-based program that would legalize millions of hard-working and law-abiding individuals — including DACA and TPS beneficiaries — should be the first priority of this administration. Next, the government can increase the level of legal immigration and bring in more skilled and educated workers.
Immigration is what made this nation great. We need to move forward, not backwards.
David Sperling is an immigration lawyer with offices in Central Islip, Riverhead, Huntington Station and Hempstead.