The first bill addressing an immigration topic introduced during the new Senate session is based on the idea that immigrants are responsible for unemployment and low wages in the United States, and blames them for taking the “American Dream” away from the reach of the people born here.
The measure establishes restrictions to the current family reunification policy, greatly limits the number of refugees admitted into the country, and eliminates the lottery that grants 50,000 visas every year. The purpose is to reduce the entrance of unskilled immigrant labor because, according to the authors of the measure, it takes jobs away from natives.
The premise of the bill, called Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act) – introduced by Republican Senators Tom Cotton from Arkansas and David Perdue from Georgia – is wrong from every angle.
First, it is impossible to think that a person from the United States with little education and on minimum wage could possibly reach the “American Dream” of financial progress. Wage depression is caused in part by the fact that legislators like Cotton and Perdue are against allowing a full-time employee to earn more than $20,000 per year. The devaluation of labor is the result of an economic vision supported by these senators from inside their party.
Second, the contributions and need for immigrant labor are clear in the technology sector, and from the dishwasher to the restaurant owner. For them, the “American Dream” is a different one: It means achieving better economic conditions than the ones they had in their countries of origin. It means making the most of every opportunity to work hard that comes their way. That is how they stand out at their job the way they do, and how they have become a vital force in the world of U.S. small business entrepreneurship.
That is the nature of the immigrants of yesterday, today and tomorrow; in the United States, in Latin America and in Europe.
The push to reduce family visa categories is nothing new. The last immigration reform approved by the Senate (S.744) had a similar negative side. This point was the result of negotiations carried out to balance the positive aspects of regularizing the immigration situation of millions of people.
Yesterday’s proposal does nothing but harm. It is a manipulation that turns immigrants into scapegoats, and it is an erred and simplistic interpretation of the financial difficulties endured by the American people. It is easier to blame someone else than to look inward.