No Praise for Raise among Business and Conservative Leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is no compassion for American workers in policies that would exacerbate labor shortages and undercut our economy.

That is the message business leaders and other conservative voices are sending after Wednesday’s unveiling of the RAISE Act, which would cut legal immigration in half. The bill, from Sens. David Perdue (R-Georgia) and Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), would restrict immigration for family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, eliminate the Diversity Visa Lottery and limit the number of refugees offered permanent resident status.

Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute, points out that the Cotton-Perdue bill would not create a skills-based immigration system and will not increase the wages of native-born workers. His analysis indicates that each time Congress has attempted to raise American wages by restricting immigration, it has failed.

“The new Cotton-Perdue bill would do nothing to boost skilled immigration and it will only increase the proportion of employment-based green cards by cutting other green cards,” Nowrasteh writes. “Saying otherwise is grossly deceptive marketing.”

“The legislation would reduce the per capita rate of immigration to the lowest amount since just after the Great Depression,” writes David Bier, Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute. “Immigration would fall to a rate three times less than the historical average and 11 times less than the historical high.”

And that only would exacerbate a problem that is already occurring — a shrinking labor force.

“The RAISE Act’s goal of reducing legal immigration is a threat to the U.S. economy and would place additional strains on the Social Security system by reducing the size of the labor force,” said Theresa Cardinal Brown, Director of Immigration and Cross-border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “A growing labor force — aided by immigration — not only helps to shore up Social Security’s finances, but it also results in greater demand for goods and services, contributes to economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship, creates jobs and improves the long-term U.S. economic outlook.”

At stake are American workers’ wages and success as part of a healthy economy.

“Not only do immigrants help grow the economy overall, but immigrants drive up wages for the overwhelming majority of Americans, and significantly so in areas and industries with more immigrants, where wage growth has outpaced the country overall,” said President Todd Schulte. “We call on Congress to fix those parts of our broken immigration system that clearly need reform — but we should create a modern legal visa system for the 21st century, not enact the largest cuts to legal immigration in modern history.”

“Slashing legal immigration in half would only hinder growth and result in fewer jobs for Americans,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “It absolutely makes sense to fix a broken system, but Congress should focus on stopping illegal immigration — not on restricting the legal immigration that grows our economy.”

From health care to high-tech, immigrants complement American workers.

“Access to talent is a challenge for the tech industry because not only can we not find enough STEM-skilled Americans to fill open roles, our broken system stops us from keeping the best and brightest innovators here in the U.S. and instead we lose out to our overseas competitors,” said Dean Garfield, President and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). “This is not the right proposal to fix our immigration system because it does not address the challenges tech companies face, injects more bureaucratic dysfunction, and removes employers as the best judge of the employee merits they need to succeed and grow the U.S. economy.”

“At this very moment, half a million jobs in the U.S. that require computer science training are unfilled. That’s indicative of the investments we need to make in STEM education as well as the need for high-skilled immigration reform that allows American companies to fill these critical labor shortages immediately,” said TechNet President and CEO Linda Moore. “The RAISE Act solves neither of these problems and instead cuts green cards by half at a time when the demand for more high-skilled worker green cards and H-1B visas is holding back job creation in the tech industry.”

Nor does limiting family reunification and refugees help American workers or live up to longstanding American values.

“The RAISE Act would permanently cap the number of refugees allowed safe passage, thereby denying our country the necessary flexibility to respond to humanitarian crisis,” said The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration. “As a Church, we believe the stronger the bonds of family, the greater a person’s chance of succeeding in life. The RAISE Act imposes a definition of family that would weaken those bonds.”

“The RAISE Act would dramatically undercut growth for years to come. American workers’ current and future economic wellbeing depends on a dynamic labor force that includes immigrants and their contributions,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Congress should find ways to replace our outdated system in ways that meet the needs of American workers and our economy.”

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