When President Donald Trump stood with Senators Tom Cotten (R-LA) and David Perdue (R-GA) Wednesday at the White House to introduced the RAISE Act, it represented the first serious effort to reduce immigration since our current immigration system was instituted two generations ago.
The bill promises to cut legal immigration roughly in half and replace decades of ineffective criteria that have allowed mass third-world immigration with a “points system” that emphasizes ability to contribute to the American economy and assimilate to our English-speaking nation.
Since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, popularly known as the Hart-Cellar act after its co-sponsors Rep. Phillip Hart (D-MI) and Rep. Emanuel Cellar (D-NY), legal immigration to the United States has exploded. Whereas, under the pre-1965 immigration regime, America admitted an average of fewer than 200,000 new immigrants a year, the Hart-Cellar Act rapidly removed barriers to entry and allowed typical yearly numbers to rise to more than quintuple.
Speaking in support of Hart-Cellar’s passage on the Senate floor, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) famously told this colleagues that, “[O]ur cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually … Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset.”
In fact, since the 1965 Act, legal immigration has usually topped one million new arrivals per year. Census estimates from 2015 show that, under the current system, more than one-fifth of those in the United States will be foreign-born by 2060, an all-time high outpacing even the great “Ellis Island” wave of migration at the turn of the last century. Meanwhile, a 2008 study by the immigration restriction group Numbers USA shows that the decedents of post-1970 immigrants, mostly of a decidedly different “ethnic mix” than pre-1965 America, will make up 42 percent of the population by the same year.
In addition to massively expanding the amount and broadening the origins of legal immigrants, the 1965 Act changed the primary focus of the American immigration system to “family reunification,” a principle intended to reserve the lion’s share of the immigration quota for Americans’ relatives from abroad but which has, in practice, allowed “chain migration” by which one immigrant in turn can bring over an ever increasing circle of relatives, to become widespread. The RAISE Act seeks explicitly to end chain migration and return the focus of immigration to what benefits Americans. full story