On Tuesday, Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue decided that targeting undocumented immigrants just wasn't going to cut it and introduced a bill to hurt the immigrants who are doing things "the right way."
The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE Act) would cut the number of green cards that are issued every year from 1 million to 500,000. It also eliminates the "diversity lottery" which allows 50,000 visas annually to be given to people from countries with low immigration rates in America. Finally, the bill would no longer allow American citizens to sponsor their immigrant parents, married children or siblings.
First of all, reducing the number of green cards issued every year serves absolutely no purpose. In 2012 (the most current information available) roughly 5.5 million permanent resident applications were awaiting approval. A year later, in 2013, just under a million people were given their green cards, leaving more than 4 million people from previous years still waiting and doesn't even take into account the number of people who applied in 2013 alone. What the senators want to do would further crippled the system that is already under intense strain. It literally makes no sense to target this group of immigrants.
If the bill were to pass, it would disproportionately affect Asian and Latino Americans who are more likely to have family members living overseas. According to the Huffington Post :
The bill doesn’t affect the millions of Irish, German and Italian Americans whose families came to the U.S. in earlier waves of immigration and no longer have close relatives abroad.
Cotton defended his position by claiming,"Once you get here, you have a green card and you can open up immigration not just to your immediate family, but your extended family, your village, your clan, your tribe. I don’t think it works for American workers.” This is a patently false statement. Under current law, American citizens are only allowed to sponsor their parents, children (married and unmarried) and their siblings. USCIS.gov explains:
If the family member of the U.S. citizen is not an immediate relative, then the U.S. citizen may still be able to sponsor them via what is called a “family preference category.” Eligible relatives include: Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21 Married child(ren) of any age Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)
That is hardly their "village, clan and tribe" Cotton claimed. His statement was inflammatory and meant to piss of the low-information voters who know nothing about the immigration system and are too lazy to Google. Even his choice of words was a racist dog whistle meant to invoke images of uncivilized savages living in huts.
Cotton told Politico on Monday that Donald Trump's Electoral College win in November was a signal that Americans are not happy with the current immigration system:
"Donald Trump was the only one who saw that most Americans don’t like our current immigration system. This is just the area of politics where I think leaders and elites are most disconnected from the people. Not just Republicans but in both parties, in business, in the media, in the academy, culture and so forth."
This is, of course, true but not in the way the GOP seems to think. Americans have been asking for immigration reform for more than a decade and the Republican Party has fought it every step of the way. Donald Trump's win was an Electoral College fluke and not something most Americans wanted, he has no mandate. In fact, the Sane Part of America (i.e. the 65,853,625 people who didn't vote for Trump) don't want him messing with our immigration laws at all because he is a xenophobic imbecile.
It's interesting that the people who have spent the last decade telling the American people that they love legal immigrants who "do it the right way" are now targeting those very people. The reality is, they never wanted Those People to come to the U.S. and they will not be happy until they have turned America into the white nationalist utopia Trump and Steve Bannon have envisioned. This is just the next step in that plan.