Why do we need one million immigrants per year? Senators Cotton and Perdue don’t think we do. And now President Trump officially agrees with them. Their bill, known as the RAISE Act, because it would theoretically result in lowering the supply of unskilled workers seeking a shrinking number of U.S. jobs, thereby raising wages, is long overdue. It would essentially cut the total number of legal immigrants allowed into this country by half (40% in the first year) and change the nature of those we invite in. They would have to prove labor market skills sufficient to earn a living here. No longer would immigrants be chosen because of family ties to U.S. citizens alone. Currently 85% of U.S. immigrants are given status solely because of sponsorship by a relative.
We should have ended family reunification immigration many years (many decades) ago because nobody can survive in the U.S. economy these days without at least a college degree and probably a graduate degree. Allowing in unskilled immigrants who have a relative here but no skills is a recipe for failure. Most will end up on welfare or in jail. Immigrant success stories like we constantly hear from Silicon Valley are true but those immigrants entered the country with superior skills and educations. Unskilled immigrants that do get jobs will compete against Americans for the scarce number of such jobs and thereby depress the wages for these jobs. This is good for McDonalds, Burger King, Tyson Foods and other employers of low-skill workers, but bad for everyone else.
Donald Trump has thus far been unable to follow through on any of his major promises. But he cannot be faulted for sincerely trying to change our immigration policy in keeping with his detailed August 2016 immigration speech which made a dozen specific proposals. They all would reduce the number of legal immigrants, shift immigration to skills-based and of course, enforce the border. By endorsing this bill, the President has carried out a significant campaign promise.
There is now the chose of a successor to Gen. Kelly to head D.H.S. The President could name Kansas official Kris Kobach, a leading immigration hawk. Kobach is controversial but undoubtedly qualified for the post. His nomination fight would hearten a lot of people who voted for the President but are dismayed by his performance to date. If Kobach were defeated, Trump would have earned not only our respect but anger at those senators who blocked him. Then the next nominee would be compelled politically to follow the Trump-Kobach program. This is one area where executive action is key.