Just before heading to his New Jersey Golf Course for an extended August vacation, President Trump previewed his immigration plan. The changes — inspired, perhaps, by the Canadian immigration point system — are found in the “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy” (RAISE) Act. The legislation was originally sponsored in the Senate by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.); reports suggested that if the measure is enacted it would slash legal immigration to the United States.
- Reduce categories for family applications. Residents could still sponsor spouses and minor children, but not other relatives.
- Abolish an existing diversity lottery.
- Insist upon English proficiency to immigrate.
- Redefine “immediate relative” to include children age 18 and under, down from the current age 21.
- Deduct points for skilled workers whose spouses are less skilled.
- Offer bonus points for select advanced degrees.
- Give bonus points for applicants earning 150 per cent of the national average income.
- Provide bonus points for some types of high achievers, but not others. Included would be certain categories of Nobel prize-winners and certain athletes, such as those who’ve won an Olympic medal.
Later at a White House news conference, Presidential advisor Stephen Miller repeated claims that the new legislation was inspired by Canadian immigration rules — with some changes. The New York Times notes that while the Canadian immigration does rely on a points-based system, Canada’s approach, however, does not merely favor immigrants based on their skills but also uses a system that promotes a multicultural society. That, it must be noted, is something the RAISE Act would not do.
And Canada appears to have a much more compassionate attitude toward refugees. In fact Canadian officials are preparing a temporary welcome center for a surge of thousands of asylum seekers. Some of them would be refugees who found their way to the USA but are now fleeing north, fearful of what will happen to them at the mercy of Trump’s newly energized enforcers at ICE. These often desperate people took ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan seriously when he said undocumented immigrants “should be [more] afraid” under the Trump administration. As if undocumented workers in the U.S. haven’t always been afraid of family-busting raids by la migra, only now the raids are even more brutal and without rationale.
So, is the Trump-endorsed RAISE Act anything like Canada’s rules? Well, as one Canadian newspaper politely quips, it is: “[it] contains definite traces of Canadian influence — but to find them, you’d need to squint past major aspects of the plan.