The “Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act” also known as the “RAISE Act,” seeks to reduce the amount of legal immigration to the United States by 50%. One immigration attorney in Salt Lake City is pushing for further discussion about how the act could prevent skilled workers from entering the United States.
Tim Wheelwright is a practicing immigration attorney in Salt Lake City. He’s also the chairman of the immigration task force for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Wheelwright said claims of the United States being flooded by legal immigrants is a myth and wants people to know that the “RAISE Act” is about people coming here legally.
“To cut immigration right now in a period virtually full employment in our economy and then when you look at specific sectors, we simply need workers,” Wheelwright said. “We just don’t have enough workers available to fill those jobs.”
The “RAISE Act” would create a “points system.” Each person applying for immigration authorization is awarded points based on various characteristics on a scale of zero to 100. If someone scores lower than 30 points, immigration is denied.
“I’m not sure that I’m opposed to some form of merit based or point system,” Wheelwright said. “It makes some sense because that would be an expression of what our policy is. What we as a country feel we want to place a higher priority on and what would be a lower priority. We have that system right now. What concerns me is that it is weighted so heavily under the "RAISE Act’s" proposal to the high skilled that it overlooks that there are other sectors in the economy that are desperately looking for foreign workers.
Wheelwright said it would make sense if decisions were made based on jobs needed in the market. If a company can prove that a foreign worker is needed, wages won’t drop and are prevailing for that position, and the job won’t displace U.S. born workers – then the company should be able to find the skillset they are looking for.
“You know I don’t know that I have the solution,” Wheelwright said. “What we’re lacking right now is the discussion. We aren’t even having the discussion about immigration policy. I think the “RAISE Act” is good in the sense that it is the opening statement.”