RAISE Act Reintroduced In Congress

Today, much of the country is focused on the current humanitarian and security crisis at the southern border. However, another crisis has been brewing in the United States for decades as the levels of low-skilled and unskilled immigration have risen, depressing American wages and displacing America’s most vulnerable workers.

To address this imbalance, Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) joined with a group of Representatives led by Representative Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) to reintroduce the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. If passed, this legislation—previously supported by both FAIR and the Trump administration— would finally bring the U.S. legal immigration system into the 21st century. 

Unfortunately, our current legal immigration system does not prioritize immigrants based on skills or abilities. To address this imbalance, the RAISE Act would implement a skills-based system in which applicants can earn points based on education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, age, record of extraordinary achievement, and entrepreneurial initiative. Merit based systems are already used in nations around the world, including: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

In addition to implementing a thorough skill-based system, the RAISE Act makes several other valuable changes to our immigration system.  First, the legislation will eliminate the diversity visa lottery, which is plagued with fraud, advances no economic or humanitarian interests, and ultimately does not even promote diversity. Additionally, it will prioritize the nuclear family by giving preference to spouses and minor child.

Furthermore, the bill creates a temporary, renewable visa for American citizens that wish to bring foreign, elderly parents to the United States for caretaking purposes. Finally, the RAISE Act will limit permanent residency to 50,000 refugees per year— a cap chosen based on average numbers for over the past decade.

The bill’s sponsors released the follow statements upon introduction:

“I’m proud to reintroduce the RAISE Act supported by the White House. For decades, our immigration system has been completely divorced from the needs of our country and has harmed the livelihoods of working-class Americans. The RAISE Act would build an immigration system that increases working-class wages, creates jobs, and gives every citizen a fair shot at achieving the American Dream, no matter whether their family came over on the Mayflower or just took the Oath of Allegiance,” said Cotton.

“Our current immigration system is broken and is not meeting the needs of our growing economy. If we want to continue to be the global economic leader, we have to welcome the best and brightest from around the world who wish to come to the United States legally to work and make a better life for themselves. This will require a skills-based immigration system that is pro-growth and pro-worker. The RAISE Act is proven to work and is still the only plan that responds to the needs of our economy, while preserving quality jobs and wages for American workers,” said Purdue.

“We need an immigration system that puts American workers first. Our broken immigration policies hurt hardworking Americans and the talented individuals who are stuck in line, waiting to contribute to our country. With the RAISE Act, the United States can finally end chain migration and move to a merit-based system. All Americans deserve rising wages, a growing economy, and an equal shot at the American Dream,” said Hawley.

“The United States immigration system is broken. Only one in every 15 immigrants to our country are granted visas because of their skills, and we do not prioritize the ultra-high-skilled immigrants who spur innovation, create jobs, and make America more competitive. The system we have now supports programs like the Diversity Visa Lottery, which does not add skills or competitive workers to our workplace, and “chain migration,” whereby once a person enters, their family relations can automatically come to the U.S. regardless of their employability… Passing this legislation, along with legislation that I have cosponsored to fix the asylum-seeking process and mandate e-verify, will provide significantly better immigration policy and greater control of our borders,” said Congressman Rooney.

Dan Stein, president of FAIR applauded this year’s proposal. “The RAISE Act would ensure that immigration levels – which currently operate in a vacuum and are unaffected by the unemployment level or the economic needs of the country – would finally begin to serve the national interest. It’s clearly time for this nation to jettison the failed policies of the past and embrace a new paradigm that will do a much better job of selecting immigrants who arrive with the skills they need to make this nation better, while also benefitting themselves and their immediate families.

“Any legal immigration reform plan that deviates from the RAISE framework would betray several of President Trump’s key campaign promises — one of which was reducing overall immigration levels. The White House supported the bill last Congress and they should support it again.”

About Author


Heather Ham-Warren joined FAIR’s Government Relations department in 2018. In her role, Heather advocates for FAIR’s interests before Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies. She also reviews and analyzes federal legislation and regulations, as well as conducts research on a wide variety of legal and immigration-related topics. Heather brings with her several years of political and legislative experience having worked for legislatures at the both the state and federal levels. She began her career in D.C. working on Capitol Hill—most recently serving as Legislative Director for a Florida Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law.


  1. avatar

    Both Leland and Bill T make a lot of sense to me! Frankly, I am opposed to even legal immigration at this point! Look at the population density, the dwindling of natural resources, the rising prices of gas and groceries! There is so much to consider here.

  2. avatar

    Go Tom Cotton!! I am SO proud of him representing Arkansas! “AFTER” Trump wins 2020 I think he would be a fabulous president to save our country!

  3. avatar

    Any plan that brings in a set number of immigrants per year regardless of how our economy is performing is just another corporate welfare benefit. On the surface cutting the number of immigrants in half , eliminating the diversity lottery sounds good because they protect blue collar jobs. It is the white collar jobs including IT that this bill attacks. The last time around the RAISE act said they were eliminating the Diversity lottery but in reality they were reassigning the visas to the “merit” category. Like any bill proposed by Congress with the aid of corporate lobbyists, it must be reviewed carefully. I am sure Cotton and his corporate cronies did not ask any American workers or unions for their input. This bill will destroy and at least reduce the chances of American citizens ever working in IT.

  4. avatar

    Los Angeles New York and Miami just named among the ten highest cities for rent world wide. All with very large numbers of immigrants and even more to come via “family reunification”. Supply and demand. But don’t expect the sheep to make the connection between why real estate is so high, wages not keeping up, and a never ending flow of immigrants. Another case where the people like Bloomberg, Bezos, and Gates insist that we are all getting richer because of mass immigration when they are the ones cashing in with low wage workers for their companies.

  5. avatar

    The DemonRats will oppose this tooth and nail. They only want government-dependent immigrants.