A new attempt at immigration reform looms, the RAISE Act, touting “merit-based” credentials – but reform supporters should beware of the proposed reform’s limits on immigration based on family connections and refugee status, Sam Peak argues in the OC Register. In fact the reform, contrary to its intended purpose, would likely end up harming productivity and economic growth due to a number of unintended consequences.
- The RAISE Act, recently pulled off the back burner, would seem to do many of the right things with its proposed shift to a points-based system that rewards, for example, people with advanced degrees.
- While the idea of prioritizing immigration based on merit has, well, merit, Peak warns that the RAISE Act’s restrictions on so-called “chain migration” (in which immigrants are allowed to expedite immigration by family members) as well as immigrants with refugee status are not based on sound economic analysis.
- Migrants who arrive via family-based migration may initially have fewer skills and therefore lower income potential, Peak concedes, but these factors discount their motivation to acquire new skills and raise their incomes, which tend to rise to match those of merit-based immigrants within 10 years. It also discounts their role in founding or enabling family-based businesses.
- Meanwhile refugees fill economic gaps in areas badly in need of new labor around the U.S., including those suffering long-term population declines or stagnation.