GOP senators introduce bill to reduce legal immigration 

Three Republican senators on Wednesday introduced legislation supported by President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech 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 CottonTikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Lawsuits pose new challenge for TikTok TikTok's leader to meet with lawmakers next week 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 HawleyLawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings, inflaming tensions Lawsuits pose new challenge for TikTok 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 KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today On The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can't sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies White House, Democrats edge closer to deal on trade 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.