Vela calls legal immigration bill shortsighted

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, slammed on Thursday newly proposed legislation from the Trump Administration that would curtail legal immigration.

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, slammed on Thursday newly proposed legislation from the Trump Administration that would curtail legal immigration.

On Wednesday President Donald J. Trump, alongside U.S. Sens. David Perdue, R-GA, and Tom Cotton, R-AR, who are sponsors of the bill and introduced it to Congress in February, presented the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, or RAISE ACT, legislation that would curtail legal immigration.

According to the White House’s official website, the RAISE ACT would establish a skills-based points system, prioritize immediate family households, eliminate the outdated diversity lottery, and place a responsible limit on permanent residency for refugees.

Vela said the bill is shortsighted and would have the result of tearing families apart.

“The idea that poor immigrants are a drag on society is simply not true. He seems to forget that his own mother, Mary Anne Macleod, came into this country from Scotland as a domestic worker, with only fifty dollars in her pocket,” Vela said. “In other words, this policy would have barred entry to his mother. And without his immigrant, low-wage mother, President Trump would not exist today. If that’s not the height of hypocrisy, then I don’t know what is.”

By establishing a skills-based system, and capping green cards at 50,000 a year, the bill would alter the priority for family members of U.S. citizens wishing to obtain a green card by placing a higher priority on those with work-based skills.

The bill would eliminate the diversity lottery, also known as the green card lottery.

Mandated by Congress in 1990 with the Immigration Act, the lottery is run by the Department of State, which makes 50,000 visas available and distributes them each year to diversify the immigration population in the U.S., according to the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services website.

The legislation would also limit the number of refugees to 50,000 per year, the bill states.

“In general — the number of refugees who may be admitted under this section in any fiscal year may not exceed 50,000,” the bill reads.

“The RAISE Act puts American workers first by prioritizing immigrants based on the skills they bring to our Nation, safeguarding the jobs of our citizens. It replaces the current permanent employment-visa framework with a skills based system that rewards applicants based on their individual merits. This reform to our immigration system will reward education, entrepreneurial initiative, and previous achievement,” the White House statement reads.

“President Trump is following through on his promise to reform our immigration system, keeping the interests of the American people at the forefront of his resolutions for our nation. This legislation will restore our competitive edge in the 21st century.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also released a statement regarding the RAISE ACT, where he said the legislation would aid the Department of Justice in upholding the country’s immigration laws.

“This proposal will help the Department of Justice perform its duties to uphold our nation’s immigration law and end the unlawful abuse of our public benefits program that undermine U.S. taxpayers. The higher entry standards established in this proposal will allow authorities to do a more thorough job reviewing applicants for entry, therefore protecting the security of the U.S. homeland. The additional time spent on vetting each application as a result of this legislation will also ensure that each application serves the national interest,” the statement reads.