RAISE Will Raise U.S. Wages

[The RAISE Act] . . . would slash legal immigration to half of its current level . . . [and] shift the U.S. from a family-based immigration system to what they call one based on merit. . . .

The RAISE Act is an immigration-reduction bill. It won’t strengthen the U. S. economy – studies consistently show that immigrants boost the economy.

The merit-based argument doesn’t hold water, either. The countries they noted for having “merit-based” immigration, Canada and Australia, admit more than twice the number of immigrants to their countries that the U.S. does, based on percentage of overall population. . . .

[This is] just a measure to keep out hard-working people who are eager to contribute to the U.S. economy. Congress must reject it. – Editorial: Trump Throws His Weight Behind a Terrible Immigration Bill, The San Francisco Chronicle, 8/2/17. [Link]

Fact Check: Our current system of legal immigration is based primarily on family connections. An immigrant comes and then petitions to bring in his extended family members, who in turn petition to bring in their members—and on and on in a seemingly endless chain. It is this chain migration that has given us the highest sustained level of immigration in our history, and average of more than one million immigrants a year for the past 25 years.

This is a system where immigrants, with their preferences for their relatives, are given significantly more say-so over admissions than anyone else. And their preferences for relatives are not necessarily providing us with people who match our national needs. Contrary to what the Chronicle article says, they are not necessarily hard-working or particularly able to contribute to our economy. As a case in point, many immigrants are poor and relatively unskilled. As a consequence, immigrant-headed households are more likely than native households to receive welfare benefits.

The RAISE Act aims to change this policy by making needed skills a much larger criterion for admission than family connections. By doing so, it can emulate countries like Canada and Australia, but without their high levels of immigration. The Chronicle informs us that we must keep the status quo because “immigrants boost the economy.” Really?

This is the common line of immigration enthusiasts (supported by “studies”). It seldom calls forth any critical analysis, but let’s carry this claim to its logical conclusion. If one million immigrants a year boosts the economy, then wouldn’t ten million a year boost it ten times more? Maybe even the enthusiasts would hesitate before claiming that.

Even if they continue to assure us that immigration always helps the economy, we might inquire as to whose economy. Certainly, it benefits the upper levels of society, whose interests the media commonly represent, but not average working people—particularly those at the lower end of the economic scale. Immigration enhances profits by suppressing workers’ wages. In effect, mass immigration may be described as a Robin Hood in reverse policy. It takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

The reason the RAISE Act was given that name is that its sponsors aim to raise the wages of American workers by reducing legal immigration to a more moderate and reasonable level. Could that really be so “terrible?”


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