New Immigration Bill Will Prevent 400,000 Filipinos From Entering the U.S.

The fate of thousands of Filipinos who are being petitioned by their Filipino immigrant relatives now hang in the balance as the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, which is highly endorsed by President Donald Trump, gets closer to implementation.

Introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arizona) and David Perdue (R-Georgia), the bill aims to limit the number of green cards issued by the United States government in a bid to reduce legal immigration by 50%. The immigration policy, which is currently based on family unity into a rigid merit-based system, will be completely overhauled.

Caught in a muddle are the Filipino immigrants who have filed family petitions, around 400,000 of them, who are now just waiting for visa availability, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Many of these immigrants who are waiting for their priority date to become current are now in danger of losing out on their opportunity to be with their families in the U.S. as the proposed bill is set to eliminate such visa petitions.

It is important to note that while there may be exceptions posed by a grandfather provision, only a limited number of petitions will be covered by such.

While many may agree that the current immigration system is outdated and needs fixing, observers have found that the comprehensive immigration reform proposal put forth by Republican Senators Cotton and Perdue still fails to address its many problems.

Under the RAISE Act, there will be no more family-based immigration preference categories as the ability of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to petition for family members will now be limited to only spouses and minor children. Adult children, parents, and siblings may no longer be petitioned.

Trump has stated that he supports the RAISE Act to demonstrate “compassion for struggling American families” who deserve “an immigration system that puts their needs first and puts America first.”

Trump also falsely made this claim“They’re not going to come in and just immediately go and collect welfare. That doesn’t happen under the RAISE Act.”

The rhetoric seems to imply that immigrants have been taking jobs away from Americans and suggest that all immigrants can now “immediately go and collect welfare”, but nothing could be further from the truth as the current federal law already prohibits most new immigrants from most federal public assistance programs for five years. 

San Francisco-based immigration lawyer and immigrant’s right advocate Lourdes S. Tancinco pointed out how the family unit contributes in inspiring every the immigrant worker or businessman strive harder and be more successful in their endeavors, enabling them to contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. She also cited a study published by the Immigration Policy Center, family-based immigrants have, in fact, contributed greatly to the overall state of the nation’s labor force.

“To deny the ability of a US citizen to petition for a parent is a direct attack on a right of a US citizen,” Atty. Tancinco asked. “Besides, if the goal is to attract the best and highly skilled workers, who would want to immigrate to a nation that does not welcome their family?”

Feature image via Flickr / Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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