RAISE Act on Planet Trump - 20 red flags every Indian must know, via top immigration lawyer Cyrus Mehta

If you're an Indian and following the stunning rise of the RAISE Act from the dumpster heap of US Congress paperwork to overnight fame, the most comprehensive interview (video) on how it affects you is here, via New York based ace immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta.

Below, in 20 bullet points, we summarize the red flags that Cyrus Mehta pointed to in his 30 minute explainer. Read alongside the summary of the Bill, these 20 points will tell you why it is political red meat and will continue to swirl in the headlines in the Trump years, even if it does not get passed easily. With the Obamacare repeal effort killed off, the Trump White House needs a new flogging horse. This is it.

Important Links:
Full text of RAISE Act (Bill)Summary of the RAISE Act in 6 sub categories

Trump announces his backing for the RAISE Act, with chief author Tom Cotton on his right/ Reuters

Trump announces his backing for the RAISE Act, with chief author Tom Cotton on his right/ Reuters

1.Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy – RAISE is not yet law. It has to pass through the Senate. That’s unlikely, given its flaws and the super majority of 60 needed.

2.If made into law, the RAISE Act will fundamentally and radically change philosophical underpinning of US immigration.

3.Traditional emphasis on family unification will shift to skills.

4.Emphasis will be on knowledge of the English language, never quite the case before.

5.Cause of alarm on what America now stands for vis a vis how America become great.


6.First-generation immigrants had not needed skills in the English language to enter America.

7.Eliminates the diversity visa programme applicable for 50,000 visas granted to low-sending countries (Section 2 of RAISE Act).

8.If RAISE Act becomes law today, applications of all those in the green-card backlog will not be preserved.

9,Accordingly, the applications-based system of today will be replaced by a merits-based points system. Said in another way, even if you’ve been in the queue for 12-14 years and you had started out at the age of, say, 30. You will have to start again. And a guy next to you at 30 will have more points ( all other factors remaining same), because the RAISE Act gives preference to younger people.

10.The RAISE act will be just as bad for those in India wishing to apply. That’s because those already in the queue will rush to file again. A backlog will be created in no time.

11.Section 3 of the RAISE Act pertains to refugees (50,000 visas) as opposed to asylum seekers. Very few Indians ask for this type of visa anyway. But, sure, those in India from other countries, fearing harm and persecution, and waiting to get refugee status in America will be hit.


12.Under the RAISE Act, Statue of Liberty, the beacon of liberty, will stand (only) as America’s projection of liberty to the world. The spirit and words of Emma Lazarus’ poem, inscribed on the statue, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” are not deemed relevant. In other words, a 21st-century reinterpretation of the statue is underway under President Trump.

13.Section 4 is on immigration preference of spouses and children. Here, the present annual quota of 400,000 will be cut to 88,000. This will cover the bulk of immigration from India - brother, sister, parents. Only the spouses of US citizens and green card holders will be preserved.

14.Definition of minor child will stand changed from 21 to 18. Before the RAISE Act, if you were over 18 but under 21, you automatically emigrated with your parents. Not so under the RAISE Act – you will have to show that you are a dependent and you will be allowed to immigrate temporarily and so long as you are dependent. Once you cease to be a dependent, you have to apply under the RAISE Act on your own steam.

15.What now of parents? Right now, as a green card holder, you can apply for their green card. If the RAISE Act becomes law, they can only get a “W” visa, for 5 years. Thus they become ineligible for any form of welfare. Medicaid will be considered “welfare’ – and they will therefore not be entitled to it. The RAISE Act also says that if you came here and got benefits, you have to reimburse the benefits if you want to become a citizen.

16.Section 5 seems inspired by the Canadian or the Australian points system, a poor man’s version at that. Unlike the Canadian system, for instance, the RAISE Act steam rolls into a 30-point threshold present categories of sponsoring somebody. Points differ for age (no points after you hit 50), whether or not you have a US bachelors degree, a non-US bachelors degree, a US masters, a non-US masters, a US PhD, a non-US Phd, a degree in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field, etc. A poetry PhD, for example, or history, will get you the same points as a US bachelors degree! There are points to be made on investments brought in. Similarly, for English language proficiency – here more Indians are likely to do very well. There are points too for extraordinary ability standard. But the standards specified are nearly impossible – an Olympic medal or even a Nobel Prize! There are some points specified in this section on job offers where the salary on the table is way above the median salary in the state of employment. There are points for your spouse’s skills – and if he/she is less qualified than you, it will actually drag you down. Important clarification, all those under the I-140 programme will need to start again from zero.

17.On people who are already here, and having folks already in the queue, there is a “grandfather clause” but it is applicable only if they are within one year of getting their green card. Even these people will have to achieve a certain number of points to be eligible for grandfathering.

18.Ironically, the “grand-fathering” is not applicable to those in the queue under the employment-base category. You won’t get any credit for having waited 11 years. (It can only be hoped that if this bill gets traction, it will attract some sensible amendments).

19. A bill sponsored by "xenophobes" in the Trump Administration. "And only xenophobic organisations have welcomed it", says Mehta. The RAISE Act raises a welcome banner for skills only in name. There will be huge queues from Day One. Read with provisions that your application can get dated, people will have to reapply and reapply and reapply.

20.For folks with H1B, under the RAISE Act you only have 6 years. If made into law, America will be for folks who are super-fluent in the English language, have PhD degrees and high-wage employment letters, and young. No place here for lower skills, so essential to the US economy, or even the Arts.

Also read: The politics of RAISE Act

Twitter | @byniknat


Published Date: Aug 06, 2017 12:43 am | Updated Date: Aug 07, 2017 08:48 pm



Also See