Trump-backed RAISE Act decoded: Points-based immigration, green cards slashed

Proposals shake up visas, rules for families seeking a better life

Green cards on the bonfire

Under the proposed law, the green card lottery system, officially known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa program, will be scrapped entirely. This distributes 50,000 cards per year to migrants from countries that have populations underrepresented in the US. It's not open, for example, to people in the UK.

America's refugee intake would also be capped at 50,000 per year.

"The American worker has never had a stronger advocate than President Trump," said US Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.

"The President understands that stopping the abuse of our country's immigration and visa system is essential to our nation's economic success. The RAISE Act rolls back regulations that put American workers and businesses at a disadvantage. It puts America first."

So it's looking at this stage like a steep reduction in the number of permanent residents being allowed in the US, but the H-1B visa, which is predominantly used by the technology industry, sees no obvious change. Nor will the H-2B visa system, which the President uses to staff his resorts.

The Information Technology Industry Council – which represents the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple – isn't happy one bit, though.

"Universally there is agreement that our immigration system is broken, and the warning lights for needed reforms have been flashing for so long the bulbs are burnt out,” the council's CEO Dean Garfield said on Wednesday.

“Access to talent is a challenge for the tech industry because not only can we not find enough STEM-skilled Americans to fill open roles, our broken system stops us from keeping the best and brightest innovators here in the US and instead we lose out to our overseas competitors.

"This is not the right proposal to fix our immigration system because it does not address the challenges tech companies face, injects more bureaucratic dysfunction, and removes employers as the best judge of the employee merits they need to succeed and grow the US economy.”

For people considering coming to the US, the new law could be a major impediment. Then again, Congress has yet to vote on it and all kinds of changes and amendments could be tacked on, if it even passes at all. ®

PS: The President also signed off a bunch of sanctions against Russia today despite dubbing it a "seriously flawed" package. The Kremlin called the act a "trade war."

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