The so-called "RAISE" Act which has been introduced by two Republican Senators, Cotton (Arkansas) and Purdue (Georgia), with strong support from Donald Trump. is being promoted as a "merit"-based immigration reform law which would purportedly emphasize education and skills, according to a point based system system allegedly similar to those of other English-speaking countries such as Canada and Australia, and drastically reduce family-based immigration and refugee admissions, which, according to most analysts, have been responsible for a large increase in immigration from Asia, Latin-America, and other non-white areas of the world over the past 50 years.

It might have been more accurate if the bill had been called the RACE Act or the RUSE Act instead.

At the outset I would, with all due respect to the bill's proponents, suggest that using the word "merit" to describe this measure is a misspelling: the correct spelling should begin with the letters "meret", as in the word "meretricious", which in turn is based on the Latin word meretrix, meaning "prostitute."

From this unflattering Latin etymology, the English word meretricious has come to mean "false" or "deceptive"; something that is attractive on the surface but of no value underneath.

Lawyers sometimes use the term "meretricious argument" to describe a legal contention by the opposing side which they believe is deliberately distorted or in bad faith, and even Supreme Court Justices can evidently feel disposed to use this term about one of their fellow Justices on occasion.

An example of this is the recent (2016) case of Evenwell v. Abbott (involving Texas Congressional districts), in which Justice Alito, in a concurring opinion, described a proposition which formed the basis of Justice Ginsburg's majority opinion as a "meretricious argument".

The same word, meretricious, is an apt description of the arguments being made in favor of the RAISE Act. Under the guise of making it easier for skilled immigrants to come to the the United States (the same types of immigrants that Trump has been condemning as allegedly stealing jobs from American workers in his attacks on the H-1B program and in his "Buy American, Hire American" executive order) the real purpose of this bill is to undo the effect of the 1965 immigration reform law which abolished the racially motivated, northern Europe oriented "national origins" immigration quotas in the Johnson-Reed immigration act of 1924, and opened America up to immigrants from every part of the world.

The 1965 law has been a particular bogeyman of anti-immigrant organizations such as the three influential ones founded by white nationalist John Tanton, discussed in my August 4 Immigration Daily comment, and this law was attacked, indirectly but unmistakably, in Trump's Phoenix, Arizona immigration address given one year ago, on August 31, 2016.

Trump's AG and one of his top immigration advisers, Jeff Sessions, has also had high praise for the bigoted 1924 law, as shown in his 2015 immigration "Handbook" for Congressional Republicans.

Meanwhile, Trump's recent Warsaw speech openly suggesting that European culture and "traditions" are more compatible with American "values" than those of any other part of the world cannot be ignored as background for the RAISE act either.

Let us begin, however, by looking at the arguments in favor of the bill raised (no pun intended) by the RAISE Act's supporters, as set forth in an August 4 POLITICO article by George J. Borjas, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Borjas begins by claiming that the RAISE Act's supposed point system would benefit the economy by favoring higher skilled workers over lower lower skilled ones, more educated workers over the less educated, and younger workers over older ones.

With regard to this latter point, he asks:

"Do many of us really believe that America would benefit more from letting in a sociology professor in her 50's than letting in a young woman with an advanced degree in computer science?"

It is hard to understand why Borjas, an immigrant who is himself in his 60's (according to Wikipedia) and whose field as a teacher is Economics and Social Policy, seems to have so little respect for or confidence in the ability of immigrants in his own age group and profession to contribute to America's economy.

It is also offensive and insulting to millions of Americans in the 50+ age group (which one of my own children is about to enter, so I have to admit to some personal interest in this issue) to imply that seniors, many of whom, almost by definition, have more experience in their respective fields than their juniors, are less qualified to contribute to the economy than younger people.

In certain contexts, such an assumption might even arguably be against our age discrimination laws. Is this demeaning and unwarranted statement perhaps an implied admission that the "economic" evidence, whatever it may be (Borjas does not mention it in this article) that younger workers are better than older ones, is hollow, of no real value, or to use my above characterization, utterly meretricious?

But let us assume for the moment that America needs a younger workforce (as some economists have indeed argued). It is a well known fact that immigrants in general tend to be younger on the average than native born Americans. If younger workers are needed in this country and are important for its future economic development, is not Borgas arguing against his own proposition when he supports a bill that would reduce total immigration levels as drastically as the RAISE Act would?

The same question comes up with regard to Borjas' contention, in his same article, that the US should prioritize skilled workers over unskilled ones by adopting a Canadian or Australian type point system. This is not to say that American has no need for more highly skilled and professional workers.

Of course it does, even though Donald Trump appears to be opposed to letting in more of these workers in his Buy American, Hire American executive order and in his attacks against the H-1B visa. But what is the rationale for admitting more highly skilled workers at the expense of lower skilled ones, as the RAISE Act would do and as Borjas supports?

Surely, Borjas, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, must know enough about New York to know that without legal foreign taxi drivers, restaurant workers, construction workers, store workers and small business entrepreneurs catering to immigrant communities, our nation's largest city would quickly grind to a halt and be on its way toward becoming a ghost town.

The same is no doubt true of many other large and non-so large cities in America as well. Many of these legal immigrants may have received work visas or green cards in lower or moderately skilled categories which the RAISE Act would eliminate, but many others, almost certainly, immigrated though family based visa or refugee categories which the RAISE Act would make drastic cuts in, or through the diversity visa (which has especially benefited immigrants from Africa in particular) which the RAISE Act would totally eliminate.

Are this country's purported "economic" interests first and foremost in the thinking of the sponsors and supporters?

Or are the supposed economic arguments for reducing unskilled worker categories, family immigration, refugee numbers and total immigration merely an assortment of bogus, meretricious pretexts for keeping out immigrants of any age or skill level from non-European parts of the world, in keeping with the long standing agenda of many of Trump's supporters?

One of these most vocal and active supporters, at least as far as Trump's agenda for reducing overall immigration is concerned, is the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has reportedly labelled as a "hate group" (see my August 4 Immigration Daily comment on this point) and with which Borjas has been closely associated.

To be continued in my forthcoming comment
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping primarily skilled and professional workers from many diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards, without regard to ethnic background or religion, but based only on their qualifications.

This is consistent with America's most fundamental values as a nation of immigrants. Roger's email address is