The Immigration RAISE (Act) AAPIs Do Not Want

After two conservative lawmakers — Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue — filed a bill named the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE) Tuesday, aimed at slashing significant numbers of legal immigration into the United States, a prominent Asian American advocacy group is voicing its concern.

“[The RAISE Act] would upend the immigration system to further a white nationalist agenda and move the country in the wrong direction,” Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Among the bill’s proposals are to cut large swaths of pathways for U.S. citizens and green card holders to sponsor family members, to eliminate a diversity visa lottery that brings an estimated 50,000 visa holders to the country, and to cap refugee admissions to 50,000 a year. Over the course of a decade, the bill would decrease legal immigration into the country by 50 percent, Politico reported.

As a group, Asian Pacific Americans comprise largest number of immigrants — according to Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Asian American adults 18 years or older were born outside the United States. Most others are the children of immigrants. The AAPI population, as with all groups, has for decades benefited from family- or employment-based sponsor systems.

AAAJ called the bill a “direct attack on our communities” and “part of a strategy to scapegoat immigrants and people of color.”

“The idea that immigrants are to blame for declining wages, or unsafe communities, is completely unfounded and fosters an offensive race-baiting and xenophobic narrative,” AAAJ said, urging lawmakers to turn to inclusivity in seeking security and prosperity for both immigrant and native-born Americans.

“The family is the basic unit of our society,” it said. “Family members care for one another in times of personal and economic hardship. Together, families start businesses and buy homes. Our immigration system should continue to value family unification.”