When President Donald Trump threw his support behind the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act – a bill Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA)) co-sponsored that aims to completely overhaul the United States’ immigration system – he made it clear that only a certain type of immigrant is welcome into the country. The bill intends to cut legal immigration by half by limiting the people residents and citizens can bring into the country and by applying a merit-based system that prioritizes English speakers who have had more educational opportunities.
As the Miami Herald reports, the proposed plan would only allow residents and citizens to sponsor immediate family members. It would cut the diversity visa lottery program, which earmarks 50,000 green cards for people from places with “historically low rates of immigration to the United States,” and limit resident status for refugees at 50,000 a year.
Trump said that by doing this the US will “favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that contribute to our economy,” according to The New York Times. Trump claims that RAISE will allow the US to “restore our competitive edge in the 21t century” and that the legislation “demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first.”
In actuality, the bill punishes immigrants who do not grow up in English-speaking countries or who do not have the same opportunity to learn the language. It maligns immigrants who come to the US and take lower paying jobs, while accusing them of sucking up resources. The dismissive way Trump and other politicians spoke of people who aren’t coming to work in business, technology, and other white collar sectors doesn’t recognize how hard they work. It doesn’t value the skills necessary to start over in the United States (often without knowing the language), so they can provide for their families. So when Gabe Ortíz – a reporter with Daily Kos – tweeted about how his “low-skilled” mom picked cotton and cleaned houses, he challenged Trump “to do a month of either.”
Ortíz received several inspiring messages from those who are opposed to using “low-skilled” to mean unimportant and insignificant. They spoke about how their “low-skilled” family members either learned English and worked their way up or helped their children find success. But what’s clear in all these stories is that it takes a lot of effort to fill the jobs that others disparage. Check out a few tweets below: