Economists Hate Radical New Immigration Plan

They say cutting number of legal immigrants could lead to recession
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2017 8:04 AM CDT
Trump Takes Immigration Cue From Australia, Canada
President Trump, flanked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R- Ark., left, and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump raised the stakes in the immigration debate on Wednesday with his support of a radically new system that would favor immigrants with job skills and fluency in English over those with family ties. Unlike Trump's previous emphasis on reducing illegal immigration, this plan would focus on reducing legal immigration, by a lot. The White House says it would be similar to the merit-based systems used by Australia and Canada. Details and coverage:

  • The bill: Trump's plan is based on a bill introduced in the Senate by David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. It's called the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, or RAISE, and the legislation is here. They introduced it in February and it hasn't gone anywhere since.
  • The reductions: About 1 million people are currently granted legal residency each year, and this merit-based system would cut that by 41% in its first year and 50% in its 10th, per the AP.

  • Points system: The New York Times takes a look at how the Australian system works. Would-be immigrants receive the most points, up to 60, for having needed skills; they get fewer points, up to 20, for fluency in English. They also get points based on age, with those 25 to 32 receiving the most. The idea is to bring in people able to support themselves, though one critic says the system is "full of holes." Canada has a similar system, though its version also aims to promote a multicultural society. The Times had a separate story on Canada's system in March. Of note: Both nations let in a greater number of immigrants per capita than the US does.
  • Economists say no: The Washington Post reports that most economists—16 of 18 in its July survey—think it's a foolish idea to cut immigration because it will hurt economic growth and raise the risk of recession. "We need to modernize the immigration system, but cutting immigration in half is bad for the economy and bad policy," says Jeremy Robbins of New American Economy, a coalition founded by Michael Bloomberg.
  • Opposition: The White House support will give the bill new life, but its prospects still aren't good because not only Democrats oppose it. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, for instance, said it would devastate South Carolina's tourism industry by reducing the number of low-wage workers at hotels and restaurants, per the Post and Courier. Among Democrats, Dianne Feinstein says it would "cripple" the agriculture industry, per the Hill.
  • In favor: A post at the conservative Power Line blog lauds the idea. "It’s fine to continue on as a nation of immigrants, but shouldn’t we also want to protect the wages of recent immigrants and other Americans with low levels of educational attainment?" asks Paul Mirengoff.
  • Acosta vs. Miller: The exchange between White House aide Stephen Miller and CNN's Jim Acosta continues to make headlines. Watch it in full via the Los Angeles Times.
(Read more immigration stories.)

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