Trump's immigration plan is 'dead in the water,' activists say

Sarah Schulte Image
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Trump's immigration plan is 'dead in the water,' activists say
Immigration activists are calling Trump's plan for immigration reform "dead in the water."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- President Trump said Wednesday he supports a new plan to cut back on legal immigration in the U.S.

The president is backing a proposal by two Republican senators to block the entry of low-skill, low-wage immigrant workers in favor of a merit-based entry process.

"This to me is just rhetoric, just politics to make Donald Trump look good," said Pastor Emma Lozano, an immigration rights activist.

Pastor Lozano has been on the front lines of protecting immigrants' rights in Chicago for years. She calls a new immigration bill introduced by President Trump "dead in the water" because it attacks a population she and many say are vital to the American economy.

"What is going to happen to all the produce in the fields, they need this unskilled labor to come in," Lozano said.

The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment, or RAISE, Act prioritizes green card applicants who speak the English language, are highly educated and have high job skills.

"The RAISE Act prevents new migrants and immigrants from collecting welfare and protects U.S. workers from being displaced," Trump said.

But current law already prohibits legal and illegal immigrants from most forms of public benefits for several years. In addition, immigration experts say U.S. workers are not being replaced by low-skilled immigrants.

"The native-born Americans and immigrants work in different sectors of the economy, so it's not as though there is competition for these jobs," said Fred Tsao, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Trump introduced the legislation with two Republican senators, Arkansas' Tom Cotton and Georgia's David Perdue. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said the bill does not have the votes to pass.

"It doesn't have any support beyond those two senators," Durbin said.

The bill is also expected to face fierce opposition from business leaders.

A Pew Research Center report says that as the baby boom population retires, immigrants will play a huge role in the future growth of the labor force in the United States.