Trump Endorses Merit-Based Immigration Bill to Cut Immigration by Half

President Trump today endorsed a Senate bill that would cut legal immigration by 50%, overhauling the current system of family-based immigration. The new bill - called Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act - proposes to shift the current system to one based on merits. 
For the past half century, starting with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, family reunification has been a cornerstone of the U.S. immigration law and system.  The Immigration Act of 1990 expanded the annual visa cap of family-based immigration to 480,000, and placed an annual visa cap of 140,000 on employment-based immigration.
The current system allows approximately one million legal immigrants to enter the U.S. annually, which, according to the Senators and the President is excessive.  
The new law proposes to reduce the current level of legal immigration to 600,000 in the first year, and gradually to 500,000 in ten years. Similarly, the quota for admission of refugees will also been cut in half. Finally, the RAISE bill will also completely eliminate the Diversity Visa Program ("visa lottery"). Family-based immigration will be limited to mostly the nuclear family - spouses and children 18 or under.  
The new bill proposes a merit-based immigration system, replacing the current employment-based preference categories (EB-1, EB-2, etc.)   The annual visa cap of 140,000 will remain the same. Interested applicants may apply online by paying a $160 fee and applications are processed annually. The USCIS will place and rank all applicants in a pool for evaluation. 
Applicants will be assigned points based on their ages, education level, English proficiency, extraordinary achievement, offer of employment, investment in and active management of a new business ($1.35 million or greater), and spouse's qualifications.  A minimum of 30 points are needed to enter the pool.  Applicants are ranked based on their points.  Education level, English proficiency and age will be used as tie-breakers for applicants with equal points.  For example, doctorate degrees trump professional degrees, which rank higher than master degrees, and so on and so forth. 
Every six months, USCIS will invite a number of applicants equal to 50% of the available visa numbers to submit their applications for permanent residence. Applicants have 90 days to submit their applications with all supporting documentation and a filing fee.  
The proposed point system favors young people (closest to 25), people with STEM education and higher salaries, and those with special awards and unusual achievements. 
Applicants who enter under this merit-based system will not be eligible for public benefits for five years.   
The future of this bill is unclear.  Democrats and some Republicans have already expressed opposition to this proposal, especially in regards to the unprecedented reduction in family immigration. 

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