Washington Watch

Posted on: February 28th, 2018
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White House Immigration Plan Bans 22 Million Legal Immigrants over 5 Decades

The White House released its plan for immigration reform, calling for heavy restrictions to be placed on legal immigration. The plan, a narrowed version of the SECURE Act, reduces the total number of legal immigrants by up to 44 percent, which would reduce the number of legal immigrants by 22 million over the next 5 years. One of the major aspects of the plan is the elimination of diversity visa lottery and the reallocation of the 55,000 visas designated for that program to the family- and employer-sponsored backlogs. Another key area of the plan is the elimination of most family-sponsored visa categories, the application of which will yield a more gradual reduction in legal immigrants than previous plans, acting “prospectively, not retroactively, by processing the backlog.”  Visa categories for parents and children of U.S. citizens and adult children of citizens and legal permanent residents were eliminated in the plan, and the age requirement for the minor child category has been changed from 21 to 18.

With regard to a timeline for implementation of the White House’s plan, 61 percent of the total cuts would occur immediately, and a total of 71 percent occurring within 10 years. During this 10-year span, 3.6 million individuals, more than twice the number of the 1.8 million Dreamers who could receive citizenship, would be barred from entry into the country. Within the next 10 years, this total balloons to 7.6 million, and upon full implementation of the White House’s plan in 2069, 22 million legal immigrants will be excluded.

This truncated version of legal immigration could have unintended far-reaching economic impacts on the United States. Even more troubling, there are only two other immigration plans put forth that are comparable in the reduction in number of legal immigrants permitted entry, the Emergency Quota Act of 1922 and the Immigration Act of 1924. These plans called for a reduction in legal immigrants by 495,672 and 412,582 respectively, the motivating factor of which was racial, targeting Eastern Europeans, Italians, more specifically Jews.

For more information, view the CATO Institute report.

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