President Trump appears to be making good on his campaign promise of a major reduction of legal immigration. Today, Trump introduced a bill alongside Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia that would reshape America's future. This new piece of legislation would cut legal immigration into the United States by 50% over the next 10 years. "In one year, this would reduce it to around 600,000," Cotton says, according to NPR
. "Over the span of the 10-year window it would fall to about 500,000." Cotton, of Arkansas, and Perdue, of Georgia, initially revealed the "Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act", or the RAISE Act (S.354)
in February, arguing that the bill would "help raise American workers' wages by restoring legal immigration levels to their historical norms and rebalancing the system toward employment-based visas and immediate-family household members." Trump is now spearheading the effort to turn the bill, which has been stalled in the Senate for months, into law. Today, at the White House, Trump promoted the bill
alongside GOP senators Purdue and Cotton, stating that "The RAISE Act -- R-A-I-S-E -- the RAISE Act will reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars." With strong support from White House advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, Trump is pushing strongly for this bill, which would mark a legislative victory for him after the GOP's failure to repeal and replace Obamacare last week. Other than its broad cuts in overall immigration, the bill also would eliminate diversity lottery visas and limit the number of refugees offered permanent residence every year. The Diversity Immigrant Visa program, also known as the green card lottery, brings in about 50,000 immigrants into the United States every year, granting them permanent resident visas. Pew Research Center has shown that "most U.S. diversity visa applicants are from Africa, the Middle East and Asia"
. Part of the intent of Trump's newly-written legislation is to help American workers compete for jobs in the labor market with less competition from newly-naturalized immigrants. Currently, according to the United States Department of Homeland Security, roughly one million immigrants
gain permanent residence, or become green card holders, in the United States every year.
While a complete repeal of the U.S. Diversity Immigrant Visa program has never been poll-tested, the program is generally regarded as essentially the very anti-thesis of a merit-based immigration system. Trump has talked repeatedly about moving America towards the direction of a skills-based immigration system, and, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll
, 44 percent of likely Americans voters would want to see America adopt an entirely merit-based immigration system, while only 37% of voters would like the system to remain how it is - which represents a 7-point edge. Through inference, one can surmise that the majority of Americans would support Trump's gutting of the program, based on their overall expressed support for merit-based immigration.
Most Americans support lowering the overall number of refugees admitted to the U.S. An Associated Press/GfK Knowledge Networks poll
showed that 53% of American adults thought that the U.S. should admit fewer Syrian refugees into the country - and that was at a time when the U.S. was admitting approximately 10,000 a year. While many polls show the majority of Americans opposing a complete ban on refugee admissions, most polls suggest that the majority of Americans support a reduction.
As for plans of cutting overall immigration, they're pretty popular with both the general public and electorate. An Ipsos poll
conducted shortly after Trump's election also showed that approximately 57% of Americans support reductions in legal immigration. A Gravis poll
conducted on a sample of registered voters showed that 63% of voters say that the U.S. population of new immigrants it admits every year is too high, whereas only 11% of voters say it is not high enough. Even only 13% of Democrats indicated that they believed that immigration should be increased. According to Gallup Historical Trends
, a plurality of Americans have backed a decreased in immigration in most of the past years since 1965. Respondents are presnted with the options of supporting maintaining immigration at its current levels, backing an increase of it, or decreasing it. In this poll, as recently as in 2016 support for decreasing immigration edged out the support for increasing it by 17 points, though it did tie with the level of support for keeping it at its present level. A Pew Research report
on public opinion, population growth, and immigration projected that immigration would add about 103 million people to the U.S. population between 2015 and 2065, which would represent 88 percent of total population growth. The report from the well-respected think-tank also polled overall support for current immigration levels, and found that 83% of U.S. adults oppose increasing immigration.
Overall, it appears that Americans have reached a sort of consensus on immigration, which is that it ought to be curtailed. Vast majorities tend to believe that immigration should not be increased, with large percentages supporting reductions. What is certain is that Trump is definitely attempting to make good on a large chunk of his immigration campaign promises, including his travel ban, which a plurality of Americans support
, and reducing unauthorized immigration
. A survey conducted in July 2016 by Morning Consult and Vox.com showed that those living in the Midwest expressed the most concern about losing jobs and wages due to cheap-labor immigration, with 59% saying that it "takes away jobs"
. Those same states delivered Trump his 2016 victory, meaning that what Trump is doing may be smart politics, electorally speaking.