RAISE Act Attacks Legal Immigration System; Ignores Needs of U.S. Businesses and Families

George Tzamaras

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) strongly opposes the introduction of the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. The bill, which was introduced yesterday by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) and endorsed by President Donald Trump, does nothing to reform our outdated immigration system, yet seeks to curtail legal immigration levels over the next decade.

Among other things, the RAISE Act:

  • Aims to cut immigration by at least half from current levels without a reasonable correlation to family reunification or the economic needs of our nation and which would mark a major shift in U.S. immigration law
  • Creates a "merit-based" system that fails to take into account the needs of U.S. businesses
  • All but eliminates family-based immigration, by restricting U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsoring only spouses and minor children for green cards
  • Reduces the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. to 50,000 per year, contrary to our nation's proud tradition of serving as a beacon of hope for people fleeing persecution
  • Ends the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program which has awarded 50,000 green cards annually to people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S.

Annaluisa Padilla, AILA President, noted, "The RAISE Act repudiates our national ethos, which recognizes the value of keeping families together to create a stronger nation. Contrary to President Trump's claims on the campaign trail and the motives of this bill, immigrants are a boon to our local and national economies and communities. This Act would force close family members, including parents, brothers, and sisters to live apart, perhaps for their entire lives and is truly an attack on family unification."

Betsy Lawrence, Director of Government Relations, added, "The RAISE Act would eliminate the immigration system that we know today and replace it with a merit-based system that fails to recognize the needs of U.S. employers and ignores the benefits of family unity. A narrowly-focused and rigid points system minimizes considerations like a person's field of work and special skills and would cripple the ability of U.S. businesses to grow and thrive. There is no doubt that our immigration system needs to be reformed but this is not the way to do it. Immigration makes our country and economy stronger. This bill fails to recognize that reality and is bad for America."


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 17080370.