Planned immigration changes in US favour high-earning English speakers

by Ray Clancy on August 5, 2017

The United States administration has unveiled a new immigration plan based on programmes currently in place in Australia and Canada which has already been criticised as favouring professional people who can speak English well.

A new Bill, called the Raise Act, sets out an immigration policy focussing on skilled professionals which would cut the overall number of people moving to the US by 50% over the next 10 years.


President Donald Trump introduced the plan at the White House and said it is partly based on the Australian and Canadian immigration models. He did not hide the fact that it aims to attract professional English speaking people with the ability to earn a high wage.

‘The competitive application process will favour applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy,’ Trump told reporters.

It aims to be tougher than the current system and crackdown on immigrants being able to claim benefits. ‘The Raise Act prevents new migrants and new immigrants from collecting welfare, and protects US workers from being displaced,’ Trump added.

Officials explained that parts of both the Australian and Canadian visa systems which they think work well have been incorporated in the new legislation. They were impressed by the way that the Australian system makes sure that immigrants are self-sufficient and able to pay for their own health care.

The points based system in Canada was used as a basis for the new US policy while some new aspects have been added in terms of making the new visa application system in American highly competitive.

The draft bill appears to reflect Trump’s promises during his election campaign to be tougher on immigration. Currently more than a million people from abroad are granted green cards to live permanently in the US and officials said that the new rules would cut that figure in half.

They added that such a tough stance will stop low paid, unskilled foreign workers depressing the wages of Americans and save taxpayers billions of dollars in immigrant welfare claims.

‘This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between America and its citizens,’ Trump added.

However, immigration experts have already criticised the proposals. According to Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, the bill would cut overall immigration levels and not increase employment based green cards.

‘The immigration systems in Canada and Australia do emphasise skilled immigrants over family members, but their immigration systems allow in far more immigrants, as a percentage of the population in both countries, than the United States,’ he said.

Republican Senator for South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, said that while he supports a merit-based immigration system to attract the best and brightest, the cuts to numbers could hurt agriculture and tourism states like South Carolina that rely on immigrant labour.

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