GOP senators introduce bill to reduce legal immigration 

Three Republican senators on Wednesday introduced legislation supported by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump calls Sri Lankan prime minister following church bombings Ex-Trump lawyer: Mueller knew Trump had to call investigation a 'witch hunt' for 'political reasons' The biggest challenge from the Mueller Report depends on the vigilance of everyone MORE that would reduce overall immigration levels to limit low-skilled workers from entering the country, which the lawmakers say would boost wages. 

Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: Senators show skepticism over Space Force | Navy drops charges against officers in deadly collision | Trump taps next Navy chief Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal GOP senators introduce bill to reduce legal immigration  MORE (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), who proposed the bill in the last Congress, have teamed up with freshman Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: Mueller report coming Thursday | YouTube adds 9/11 info to Notre Dame fire video | New details on case against Assange | Thousands sign petition to ban Trump on social media | Conservatives side with big tech in GOP fight Conservative groups defend tech from GOP crackdown Pelosi puts tech on notice with warning of 'new era' in regulation MORE (R-Mo.) to reintroduce the legislation, called the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, at a time when a surge of migrants at the southern border has put a spotlight on the need for immigration reform. 

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“For decades, our immigration system has been completely divorced from the needs of our country and has harmed the livelihoods of working-class Americans,” Cotton said in a statement.

He argues the bill would increase working-class wages and create jobs.

The RAISE Act would replace the current employment-visa framework with what sponsors say would be a skills-based system that prioritizes immigrants who are more educated, speak English and show a record of achievement or entrepreneurial initiative.

It would prioritize the legal entry of the immediate family members of United States residents but end preferences for extended family members and adult children. 

“Our current immigration system is broken and is not meeting the needs of our growing economy,” Perdue said. “If we want to continue to be the global economic leader, we have to welcome the best and brightest from around the world who wish to come to the United States legally to work and make a better life for themselves.”

Hawley, who was elected to his first term in November, said: “With the RAISE Act, the United States can finally end chain migration and move to a merit-based system.” 

The bill would eliminate what sponsors call the “outdated” visa lottery program, which was created to promote diversity.

The GOP lawmakers say the lottery is “plagued with fraud” and fails to promote significant diversity. 

The legislation would also limit the number of refugees offered permanent U.S. residency to 50,000 per year. 

Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, whose influence in the White House is growing and is reportedly behind a recent shake-up at the Department of Homeland Security, praised the RAISE Act in 2017 as “what President Trump campaigned on.”

But Trump earlier this year voiced support for increasing legal immigration, saying in his State of the Union address that he wants “people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever” on a legal basis. Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerIt is wrong to say 'no collusion' The Hill's Morning Report - Is impeachment back on the table? Nadler: I don't understand why Mueller didn't charge Donald Trump Jr., others in Trump Tower meeting MORE is also drafting a legal immigration plan that may conflict with Miller's goals.

The White House released a statement to The Hill later Wednesday saying Trump still supports principles in the RAISE Act, without specifically stating whether he endorses the legislation itself.

“President Trump will always put American workers first — and he is committed to an immigration strategy that puts an immediate end to the current criss at our southern border, prevents illegal entry, moves to a merit-based system, and keeps the American people safe,” said deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley.

The Senate overwhelmingly rejected a Trump-backed proposal to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws in February 2018 by a vote of 39-60. That proposal was backed by Cotton and Perdue and, like the RAISE Act, would have limited legal immigration and scrapped the diversity visa lottery program. 

Updated 6:06 p.m.