So, Trump thinks he’s found a clever way to make sure foreigners can’t get into the United States AND help Americans get jobs that are currently held by foreigners. He’s deported a bunch of foreigners already, but now he wants to limit legal immigration, too! He seems to be focusing on STEM fields in particular because, unless you’re an Olympian or Nobel Prize winner, you can’t even APPLY without a STEM degree. Seriously, I’m barely even allowed to apply:
To be fair, I’m not looking for a job, but take a look at how many points I’d get for a salary under $77,900. That’d be zero. I’m a writer so obviously I’m out, but if I applied for a job with my masters degree, I’d probably still miss the quota because I’m only a few points above the minimum. Time Magazine was nice enough to create this little game for us to see if we would be allowed in if we weren’t already here.
Trump has enjoyed creating exclusive resorts so much that he’s decided to make the whole country exclusive.
Now, there’s a lot of people that think the RAISE Act is great, and they might be right. There are a lot of Americans that are struggling to find work. Trump is trying to incentivize businesses to hire American workers. He also wants to limit the number of immigrants that come in without skills, and perhaps that’ll reduce the burden on the taxpayer who would have to pay for healthcare when this person can’t find a job. Additionally, the writers of the act, Tom Cotton (Republican-Arkansas) and David Perdue (Republican-Georgia), think that the annual number of entrants into the country should be based on a formula. That’s not how it’s run right now, and they think it should be based on several inputs. I imagine those would be what job skills we need, how many Americans could do those jobs instead, and how much money the government can afford to spend on affordable housing and healthcare. These are all good points, and you can find their phone numbers by clicking their names above if you want to thank them.
If you want to call them for a different reason, let me give some bulletpoints:
- The minimum salary for STEM jobs would be 25% lower than the average salary currently paid to STEM employees, meaning foreigners would still get those jobs.
- They didn’t tell us any details about that cool formula that’s going to determine each year how many people can immigrate here each year.
- Ignoring foreigners who desperately need help has already caused many countries to shift their alignment to that large country in Asia that supports North Korea.
One thing to add: If the RAISE Act would actually work, the cost savings would go to the people who need it most in the same way that donations to people in China don’t actually get seized by the government. In other words, that money is gonna go to THE WALL! No, not that wall, this one.
If you’re feeling particularly motivated, you can read them these results to show them what the RAISE Act would really do. Below, you can see you only get the minimum score if your English is “Good” and you are an experienced engineer with a masters in STEM unless if you aren’t willing to make less than $77,900, which means you won’t get to come here because you won’t meet the quota because you’re at the minimum score already. If you’re 26-30 years old, you might have a chance.
I’m starting to think that “Try Again” button should link the NBC Gold Map so we can all make our Olympic dreams a reality!
Okay, enough fun. What’s in this…thing?
Basically, Trump wants to stop bringing in people who don’t have the skills to find jobs. He wants to make sure they have a job offer lined up before they come here and that the job is in a field that is critical to the U.S. economy. For the most part, he’s focusing on STEM jobs.
He also wants to make sure that Americans with the right skills get jobs before an immigrant can get it. That goes for any job, not just STEM. He’s raising the salary requirement for that initial job offer so that companies decide it’s worth it to pay Americans instead.
He wants to let in people with at least $1.35 million dollars because he wants to foreigners to invest in America. He wants money to flow into this country and not out. He wants businesses to produce in the United States so that there’s a trade surplus instead of the trade deficit we’ve had for a long time.
He’s talked a lot about American businesses planning to outsource and deciding to change their mind because of him. We’ve also seen that Foxconn is planning to build a plant in Wisconsin. He’s also said that many American companies that already left will come back because his tax plan will causes business taxes to be lower than they are in Canada, Ireland, and others places those companies went. For example, Accenture moved its headquartered to Ireland. Even Apple dodges some taxes by parking profits in Ireland.
Additionally, he wants GDP to go up, and whether you’re an American company or a foreign company, producing here raises our GDP. The GDP equation is as follows: C+G+I+NX. The I stands for “investment,” and Trump’s plan to have companies invest here will help GDP. His plan to give this country a trade surplus will also help GDP because “NX” standards for “net exports,” which would be a positive number if we have a trade surplus. “G” stands for government spending, which he plans to cut dramatically, and “C” stands for consumption, which depends on how much money people spend at the store, how much disposable income they have after taxes and what not. That’s not just money they want to spend–it includes utilities and necessary goods like food–but it also includes that sweet new grill you really want. If you can afford to buy that grill, GDP goes up. If you can’t or if you choose to save because most of don’t have a lot, then GDP doesn’t go up at all.
Trump wants to stop using government funds to support people coming to this country. The RAISE Act eliminates a lot of people that might need affordable housing, healthcare, and typical additional help that you might need when you come here with nothing. Since you could apply to come here in your late 20’s with no education, no job offer, fluent English, and no highschool diploma with a better chance than someone 25 years old with a masters degree in STEM, fluent English and a job offer and $1.35 million with a better chance simply because you have $1.8 million, the government will be less likely to have to pay to keep you from being sick and homeless. That money is supposed to be invested in a new commercial enterprise, but that could turn a profit, and you could withdraw a reasonable salary for yourself and do well.
Save for later: An important part usually not discussed about the GDP equation is that government spending is net of taxation, but don’t freak out…we’ll talk about it later, I swear. So just forget about it for now. If you really wanna see the more weird-looking equation, look below. If not, close your eyes and scroll:
GDP = C + I + (G-T) + (X-M)
For reference, here’s the score of that younger person who has no high school degree but $1.8 million:
Trump also wants to ensure that the United States economy is way ahead of any other country. He thinks it’s ridiculous that China is so close to catching up and that other countries are modernizing while we’re growing at a slower pace. He wants this country to look beautiful, which is why he wants $1 trillion dollars for his Infrastructure Plan. Those projects generally go to local workers because you can’t outsource construction.
There has been some talk of bringing foreign workers to rebuild some of our infrastructure in the same way that one state might win a contract to build in a different state, but this time, the workers would come from other countries. It’s more likely that foreign companies would hire American workers than bring their own, and only China would really try hard to bring their own but would still likely be told to shove it. Moreover, Trump will likely be very reticent to allow blue-collar profits to benefit anyone but American companies and American workers, which the exception of any American companies that may have left already and who strike a deal to come back if he lowers taxes and gives them the contract.
He also wants to make sure that the United States is #1 in all industries, especially critical industries. Some of those industries are responsible for chemical engineering, telecommunications, defense, energy, and IT. There are others, but these are the ones that definitely need STEM-trained employees, and Trump would feel more comfortable if those employees were born here so that there isn’t even a hint of risk that some of those employees might not be loyal to the United States. He’s going to encourage businesses to stop hiring foreigners so he can get U.S. citizens trained and ready to succeed at jobs that businesses would hire Americans to do at a lower salary than he’d allow them to pay foreigners.
Finally, this one is the most egregious. The RAISE Act will be eliminating several groups of people that can come to the United States, and the determination as to whom will be eliminated seems highly focused on getting the United States ‘back to a simpler time.’
Trump wants to ensure that only members of a nuclear family, as we describe that, can help each other come here. If you’re already here, and you want a family member to come, you can apply for them, show evidence that you can support them, and so on, but only if the United States decides your family ties are close enough. If it’s common for grandparents to live in your home where you originated, Trump doesn’t seem to care. In American, that’s not common, and he thinks we should keep it that way. No uncles and aunts living with their nieces and nephews if the parents are able to take care of the kids. No grandparents living with their grandchildren either. Cousins? Forget it.
However, the RAISE Act does however add a provision that allows parents of U.S. citizens to come to the United States on a nonimmigrant W-visa on a temporary basis to visit their child, get medical care and so on. However, there’s no information as to whether that medical care must be paid out of pocket, can be paid through their child’s insurance, or will be provided by the government. The Act also doesn’t say whether these parents can hold temporary jobs, how they’d be taxed if they do so, whether they could invest in nonfinancial assets like real estate and commercial partnerships, whether they could run a business, and whether they could employ someone in that business within the stipulations of this new visa.
Trump also wants to end the Diversity Visa, which basically states that there’s a certain number of people that can come from each country on the planet, unless a country has already sent 50,000 or more people in the past 5 years. Historically, we’ve invited people in from everywhere. We’ve welcome everyone because that’s who we are. Trump seems to think that we should stop being who we are, that we should focus on who is already here for awhile until we start randomly letting more people in regardless of their qualifications. Additionally, he wants to reduce overall number of visas for any purpose, not just this one, by 50%, bringing the total from 675,000 to 337,500. He says that will bring legal immigration levels down to more historical levels.
Finally, he wants to limit refugees to 50,000 per year. The longest-standing mission of the United States has been to not only allow anyone to come in but to give priority those who would die if they didn’t come here. To be more specific, we bring in people who are trapped in the middle of a war, who are being threatened or attacked for their beliefs, who are being mistreated by their government, who are in need of urgent medical care unavailable in their country, who are suffering from natural disasters, and anyone else who is unable to survive without help. Trump has shown that he’s more cold and calculating than compassionate.
So what are the effects of all this?
Taking it one step at at time, let’s look at the skills-based rationale of the RAISE Act.
It claims to be a merit-based system where you get a certain number of points from zero to 100. You need at least 30 apply and you should plan to have 40 to have a chance, However, you get 25 for being a Nobel Prize winner or winner of a “major international award,” which is clearly defined, and 15 points if you have earned an Olympic medal in the last eight or fewer years. Therefore, 40 points are already removed for practically 100% of people. Therefore, the new maximum becomes 60. Additionally, the new maximum for 99.9999% of people goes down from 60 to 48 because most people won’t be bringing a Ph.D and $1.8 million in foreign currency. Finally, given all the field requirements before your institution would officially confer your degree, it’d be awfully hard to obtain your Ph.D before you’re 31, costing almost everybody another two points. So your new maximum is 46, and the minimum is still 30.
The upside is that you have less to worry about with a score of 35/100 when almost no one is getting higher than a 46. I suppose 35/100 is 35% or a huge F or failing grade but 35/46 is a C, which I suppose is average. Therefore, 35 may actually get you into the U.S. Maybe.
I do need to mention a crucial point, which is that Barack Obama had already shifted the United States immigration policy in the direction of a meritocracy, but he did not plan to exclude people while attempting to look like he cares.
Trump also claims that foreign workers have kept wages artificially low by allowing businesses, which may be true, but this plan doesn’t fix that because the salary of someone who actually qualifies to come here would still be lower than what you’d have to pay an American. There just wouldn’t be very many coming here. With so many job openings to fill with perhaps an equal number of job seekers, those jobs would go to Americans since they’re the only ones available, but their salaries wouldn’t be higher because there’s no shortage of workers such that companies would get into a bidding war in which a company raises their salary offer so that a worker chooses them instead of a different company. I don’t know that there’d be a surplus of workers either, such that workers would have to get into a bidding war with each other to lower what salary they’d be willing to accept. Surplus labor supply for these critical industries just can’t happen because those workers might be willing but couldn’t fill the positions because they don’t yet have the skills. Therefore, the RAISE Act isn’t like to raise wages and, in the long-run, with a surplus or educated workers, wages could actually come down.
An additional thing to mention, by the way, is that we could actually be incentivizing someone with a lot of money, only “Moderate” English, and not much skill to come here first and start a business that then restricts hiring to only people from his or her own country who maybe don’t have a lot of money but qualify to come here because of their skills. They wouldn’t be American, and they’d qualify. So the RAISE Act, in short, doesn’t work.
In reference the Opioid Epidemic, Trump said that going after suppliers never works because, as long as there’s demand for drugs, there’d always be someone willing to supply them no matter the risk. So he wants to go after the victims. However, he’s going after labor demand (companies) instead of labor supply (workers) in this case, and with his logic, if there’s labor demand, there will always be someone willing to provide labor supply.
I’m not trying to poke holes in it! Just, with a full analysis, it doesn’t hold water well.
I talked about foreign investment, money coming in from abroad, as a separate issues from international competitiveness, but the effects of the RAISE Act on each of these issues is really the same. Basically, Trump wants us to be the best, and he thinks by getting the best people, keeping people he thinks are liabilities out, and training people who are already here that we can accomplish that. However, other countries may be trying to do the same thing, and the RAISE Act leaves open loopholes, though not much more than loopholes you’d only find if you were looking for them.
Since he’s trying to reduce exploitation of loopholes and those exploiters are looking, they’ll probably find them. Even I found a couple, and I’m definitely not an outsourcing company looking to hire people from abroad to package job descriptions in a way that can be sold overseas to countries that do have excess labor supply for a very cheap price even including some training costs.
Basically, large companies from India who are already doing this can still run outsourcing companies that exist solely to automate jobs and send them back to India. They figure out all the details, put together training plans and educate Indian workers via GoToMeeting or something else on the awesome Citrix platform. They bring in a few Indian people whose qualifications may fit the terms of the RAISE Act but whose actual job description is vague and focuses mostly on this job shifting back from the United States to India. Companies are Infosys, Tata Consulting, and Cognizant do this all the time, and they’ll be able to continue doing it.
Another loophole is to offer salaries much higher than anyone dreamed of getting and then not pay them more even though you’re giving them more responsibilities. That’s already common practice for American employees at most corporate offices. We even jokingly warn people not to ask for too much more responsibility because the raise that seems implied is really happening much anymore. Moreover, these workers would have to leave the country if they complain enough to actually get fired. Companies would at least be able to do this until workers get green cards, which is why you could switch employers without that new employer paying to sponsor you. At that point, if you’re qualified for the job, your immigration status would put you at the back of the line.
All of this can still happen under the RAISE Act.
Finally, this regulation will definitely hurt GDP growth in the medium term as well as the long-term. There will very likely be short-term gains, and I don’t think that has as much to do with wanting to be reelected as it has to do with the mentality that short-term gains are good and long-term declines are not his fault.
Once Trump gets his tremendous increase in GDP, it’ll crash due to excessive risk, low wages that can’t support the consumer economy (the “C”), low taxes (that “T” I told you about…there it is) that can’t support government spending (the “G”) in industries dependent on government contracts, and of course the lack of confidence and subsequent investment and hiring due to a declining stock market when Trump’s government doesn’t step in to stabilize GDP via government spending because he doesn’t want to and can’t afford because he was taxing those who have little they can pay and not taxing people and corporations who have a lot they can pay!
Phew…all in one breath. Okay! That was a lot!
While we’re at it, another issues with government spending is actually a moot point, which is spending on affordable housing, healthcare, etc for refugees and others just starting out in the United States. It doesn’t matter because we don’t have to worry about having those funds since Trump wouldn’t allow anyone in that would need those funds. So, when Trump doesn’t pay for these assistance programs that help millions and millions of people, you can sleep well knowing that he’s not cutting funding for as many people as you’d think. I’d probably just take a nap instead of sleeping through the night because, well, those people our government is responsible for helping get on their feet are going to continue suffering overseas and dying overseas because Trump turned his back on them.
That brings me to the topic of culture. Our country is known for something: helping. We’re known for bringing in people that nobody else wants. That perhaps is our culture. We help people in need, whether it’s marathon runners so exhausted after the Boston Marathon but finding a sense of purpose and meaning of life in helping those hurt and in danger during the 2013 Boston Bombing or whether it’s a more abstract form of assistance wherein we think about prosperity and happiness and freedom in terms of their comparative levels between our country and other countries. The manifestation of those feelings doesn’t really look like what the RAISE Act is asking us to do. There’s a mismatch.
Trump wants to stop the Diversity Visa program, which basically sums up our culture: sure you can come in, don’t even think twice, we love you. It has no ties to the economy or anything else. It’s blind to where you come from. It doesn’t care who you are or where you came from. Trump wants to end that, and that’s entirely because he doesn’t have those feelings. He doesn’t feel that way about people from other countries.
Note that this is the breakdown of people coming here legally. Not so much from diversity, therefore not fixing much:
Also note that I mentioned Trump wants to bring in parents of U.S. citizens. As you can see, that’s already happening a lot.
He also wants to reduce the annual number of refugees to 50,000, which shows he not only cares very little about you regardless of where you come from but cares even less about you if you’re worse off.
He also wants to enforce the way we define a “family” unit. He wants to force other people overseas to agree that a family includes just parents and kids. Therefore, Trump doesn’t think a family with grandparents, aunts and uncles, or cousins isn’t really a family, and he wants to enforce that definition globally.
Clearly, this is going to upset many families. Frankly, I don’t think they’ll care much how Trump defines them, but I do think they’ll change the way they think of all of us because, which is a result that dramatically affects all of us when we travel and via their government’s foreign policy changes.
This is a quick story of how traveling as an American is affected by the who’s in power at the time:
It’s already much harder to travel as an American. When I was traveling, the joke was to wear a Canadian flag patch on your backpack so people wouldn’t blame you for Iraq and other things, and that was when Obama was President! Even a Tibetan monk in a border town between China and once told me, “You know we don’t really like you guys much either, right?” He was nice about, but…HE’S A MONK! C’MON!! Even he felt strongly enough to say something? With Trump is office, traveling as an American…oof!…get that Canadian flag patch and maybe learn some Spanish as a backup. Fortunately, I adopt accent quickly and was actually mistaken multiple times for being Russian in areas Siberians love to vacation.
Additionally, as you saw from the point system above, Trumps is favoring highly-educated Olympians with Nobel Prizes and tons of money. He’s not favoring tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. That’s our whole culture, and he’s trying to change it. Yeah, good luck man.
While reducing the overall number by 50%, from 675,000 annually to 337,500, he is adding one thing. Parents of U.S. citizens will be allowed to come visit. If you came here and eventually became a U.S. citizen, your parents can come, too. They’ll be here only temporarily, but the ability for them to come up here goes up quite a bit because you’re here. Trump hasn’t discussed any details about what those parents could or couldn’t do when they’re here, but at least they can come. Trump is trying to get rid of something he calls chain migration where one person comes in and then brings in one more who then brings in one more and so on, but these parents would not be considered part of the chain he wants to break. As we’ve seen earlier with rich people starting businesses and only hiring people from their country, that ‘chain’ would still be alive and well.
Nothing has been said about whether these parents would be allowed to invest in real estate while they’re here, which would qualify them for a B-visa, which allows permanent residence because you own a business or a residence. He also hasn’t mentioned how he’d make sure there isn’t just a bunch of high-value investments coming in such that foreigners become landlords, which I’m sure he wouldn’t like, but he hasn’t said a word about it. Idiot. Finally, if these parents could own businesses, could they be sole owners and/or in a partnership or would they need to have an American invest in the same project with them? Would they be able to employ people? Would those employees have to already reside here, or would they be allowed to bring in people from overseas? Again, something I don’t think Trump wants, but he hasn’t said anything about it.
I’ve reached out to a law firm that takes on clients that need help with the very complex visa system in the United States. Perhaps they can fill in the blanks where Trump hasn’t.
Finally, there are national security implications regarding the RAISE Act. When we ignore countries that are experiencing war, famine, and other major problems, other countries take our place. That is a major foreign policy problem, especially because it’s not France or the UK that would do that but China. They hate us, and they also support dictatorships and crush these countries with crippling debt obligations. In case you weren’t aware, China had a big hand in the collapse of Venezuela’s economy and Maduro’s rise to dictatorship. In exchange for that, perhaps Maduro will allow the Chinese military to have installations, equipment, or full bases in Venezuela, right near Aruba and a few hours flight time from D.C.
Additionally, national security often requires STEM, and we’ve already seen that RAISE Act isn’t foolproof, which means that the proportion of people educated in STEM will be mostly foreigners and the ratio of foreigners to Americans with significant and applicable experience in STEM will be even higher. Given that the Chinese government has already publicly announced its intention to take over Silicon Valley, there are serious problems here.
Finally, Trump’s plan to give us a trade surplus actually prevents us from winning a trade war. Typically, the world economy and, well, everybody, loses in a trade war. You know that. However, the individuals countries that lose the most in a trade war are those with trade surpluses. Trump would be better off timing which things he does first. Perhaps a trade war with China now and then a trade surplus later? Perhaps disentangle ourselves from the mess your company and many U.S. corporations created when they moved everything to China and then harm Chinese trade when they can’t do so much to harm us in return, and then go after your trade surplus.
So, I’ve present a lot, but what can WE actually do about it?
Well, we can contact Congress. You can tell Tom Cotton and David Perdue that they should think twice about bringing this vote to the floor because they might want to be reelected. There are a lot of steps before this becomes law. It needs to be voted 60-40 to allow debate on the Senate floor. Then there needs to be 51-49 in favor of voting to pass or not pass it to the House, which will then decide whether to send it to Trump, who would very likely sign it. Therefore, there’s a lot of time, and given Trump’s crawling pace, there’s plenty of time to get involved.
I don’t see a way to offset this Act because you can’t just bring people here in your suitcase, but there are plenty of things you can do to make sure Trump doesn’t make this a law. Given the nature of how this law was presented, I doubt he’d convert it into an executive order, and he just upgraded the Opioid Epidemic to a national crisis, which means he’s focused on that even more than before in addition to the issues with North Korea. So I’m pretty sure this won’t get done anytime soon.
This means we could get the debate on the Senate floor AFTER the 2018 elections. That’s more than a year from now, and we’d also have to wait until new Senators get seated in January 2019, but if Trump can be busy with other things until then, we have a chance.
We should bring as much evidence as we can possibly can to show that this RAISE Act is going to harm the things that Trump cares about. That is how you do it. You show Trump that his own goals will not be served. You show that you you’ve researched what he wants, and that this is not going to give him the country he wants.
Study what we don’t like so we can know exactly how to stop it. That’s what we need to do.
Finally, we need 60 votes to get a floor debate, and most Democrats will probably be willing to at least hear this bill, but it’ll take 51 senators to even allow a vote! We only have 52 Republican senators. That’s not much. We can change that in 2018. Here’s a list of upcoming elections in 2018, broken down by Republican and Democrats.
The most important thing we can do is remember who we are. This will not go on forever. Immigration reform happens all the time. We haven’t really solved anyway, but there have been many iterations.
Always remember that you are who you are. Whether you support sanctuary cities, deportation, deportation reform, path to citizenship, nationalism, or any other method of dealing with people who want to come in and out of this country, no law can change who you are on the inside. Stay strong in your convictions. If you do want to stop Trump from eventually signing RAISE into law, I’m right there with ya. Don’t get complacent. Don’t let these policies become normalized. Keep fighting.
If you’re someone who is trying to come here, trying to stay here, or trying to have more rights while you are here, I also stand with you.
You’ve read one of my travel experiences. I don’t represent anyone but myself. I have some things in common with a lot of people in this country, but I’ve also met people from around the world with whom I identify in various ways.
One of the guys at the gym I went to a lot in China was from Equatorial Guinea. I could count on him being there, and it made me feel I had someone to talk to who knew both English and Mandarin when my Mandarin wasn’t as good as it is now. We had some good conversations. Equatorial Guinea. Who’d have guessed?
I hung out with some cool people from Seychelles. I had a rather in-depth discussion about history with someone from Siberia. I somehow got a free upgrade, without even asking, to first-class on a Thai Air flight on which I found I have common philosophies with a Kurdish-Jordanian.
Trust me: I identify with you. A lot of us do. We’re gonna help you out. I know you probably can’t wait a long time, and you shouldn’t have to. So we’re going to do everything we can to get you here. We can have a strong economy and wealthy Americans and all of what Trump wants AND bring you here, even if Trump doesn’t think it’s possible.
We’re not all like Trump. Thanks for liking me because you liked Obama, but get to know us for who we really are, and you’ll find that we’re still a loving nation, even if our leaders sometimes don’t know what they’re talking about.