On July 26, 2017, Donald Trump issued a statement supporting the so-called "Merit-Based" RAISE Act, which would cut legal immigration in half and heavily favor immigrants from European countries, where English is widely used and understood and access to higher education is widespread, over other, non-white, parts of the world, on the pretext that America needs high-skilled immigrants more than low-skilled or family-based immigrants.

His statement included the following:

"[The] Bill will create a merit-based immigration immigration system that protects our workers, our taxpayers and our economy...

For decades, low skilled and unskilled immigration into the United States has surged, depressing wages and harming America's most vulnerable citizens.

Our system does not prioritize the most highly skilled immigrants...

The RAISE Act replaces the current employment visa framework with a skills-based system that rewards applicants based on their individual merits."


For IT, engineering, finance and other professionals and skilled, highly educated workers who wish to pursue careers in the United States and for US employers who wish to hire them, this sounds like a very nice proposal, and least for those professionals who also happen to come from European countries where English is widely understood and higher education is widely available, as pointed out above.

But we already have a visa that is widely used by skilled, highly educated professional immigrants - H-1B. If the president and Congressional supporters of the RAISE Act really believe that skilled immigrants are so important to America, one would expect that they would also be introducing legislative and regulatory proposals to make H-1B visas more accessible and available to more people.

To the contrary, Trump and his supporters are launching a war on H-1B immigrants which gives the lie to the claim that the RAISE Act has any other purpose than reducing immigration from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Even without reference to the president's attempts to reduce immigration from India and other Asian countries by making the H-1B visa more difficult to obtain (see below) it is obvious from the structure of the RAISE Act itself that its main purpose is to reduce immigration from non-white parts of the world.

As an nbc.com opinion writer, Raul A. Reyes, explains:

"Consider who would be adversely affected by the RAISE Act. Reducing entries based on family sponsorship would negatively impact Latin Americans and Asians, while cutting the number of refugees would mean allowing in fewer people from the Middle East.

The 'diversity lottery'...offers benefits to Africans and people from the Caribbean that they might not otherwise have. So despite the rhetoric of helping American workers, the RAISE Act amounts to a pretext for giving preference to white immigrants."


RAISE Act Would Change Racial Makeup of U.S. Immigrants
(August 4, 2017)


The hypocrisy of the president's support for the RAISE Act as a way of boosting skilled immigration is made even clearer by the following statements and actions he has taken or is reportedly considering against H-1B applicants or visa holders, 82% of whom came from India and China in 2016, according to Forbes.


First, during one of the Republican presidential debates, Trump stated that the H-1B program was "very bad" and "unfair" for US workers, "And we should end it."


However, just as Trump, during the campaign, had called for banning every Muslim immigrant in the entire world from America, but as president, issued executive orders banning "only" about 150 million to 200 million Muslims (out of 1.6 billion worldwide) from ever setting foot in the US; Trump's initial H-1B-related executive order, with the title "Buy American - Hire American", did not purport to abolish the H-1B visa entirely (something that would require an act of Congress) Instead the "Hire American" order attempted to scapegoat primarily Asian professionals for allegedly taking American jobs and undercutting US worker wages. The same executive order also tried to intimidate H-1B employers by threatening increased enforcement actions.


Then came USCIS policy changes denying H-1B status to certain Level 1 salary jobs in direct contradiction to the H-1B law (about which I will have more to say in a separate forthcoming comment) and a hurricane of RFE's in what in normal times would have been easily approvable H-1B cases (which I will also discuss my own experiences with in another forthcoming comment).

Now, in the first week of 2018, there are reports of another possible Trump administration H-1B policy change - one which, if upheld by the courts (which might be a very big if - as I will also show in another separate comment) might force several hundred thousand mainly Indian H-1B workers to leave the United States and wait for many years overseas while waiting for their green cards. See: thinkprogess.org

Trump said he wanted highly skilled immigrants. Now he's forcing them out.


mcclatchy reports that the Trump administration is also planning to end the current policy of giving work authorization to H-4 spouses, and is considering changes in H-1B visa allocations which might could it harder for many recent college gradates who are now eligible to qualify.


In its attacks on the H-1B visa and moves to make access to and use of of this visa more difficult, the Trump administration is showing the utter fraudulence of the claim that its support for the RAISE act, and Trump's related campaign to abolish a major part of the family immigration system and eliminate the Diversity visa are only intended to favor skilled and educated immigrants over less skilled, less educated ones.

Instead, Trump's attack on the H-1B visa has everything to do with dismantling, piece by piece, the immigration system that America has had for the past half century which is open to immigrants of all nationalities, ethnicities and religions; and reverting instead to the 1924 system of giving preference to immigrants from one part of the world only - Europe - as Trump heralded in his unabashedly white nationalist July 6, 2017 Warsaw speech.

Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping immigrants from many parts of the world obtain H-1B and other skilled and professional work visas and green cards for more than 35 years. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com