Two GOP senators are proposing a cut on legal immigration to the United States, an idea backed by President Trump during his campaign for the White House.
Republicans Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.) introduced legislation Tuesday that they said would effectively halve the number of green cards issued each year from 1 million to roughly 500,000.
“Over the last 40 years we’ve seen a huge increase in immigration,” Cotton said, arguing that the current amount is out of line with “historical” levels.
The legislation would nix immigration preferences for nonimmediate family members, adult children or adult parents of current legal permanent U.S. residents.
Those restrictions, the senators argue, would help base immigration on employment needs. The legislation wouldn’t impact employment-based immigration.
“Unless we reverse this trend, we’re going to create a near-permanent underclass for whom the American dream is always out of reach,” Cotton said.
The GOP proposal would end the State Department’s Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a decades-old lottery system that selects individuals from low-emigration countries to reside in the United States.
Cotton argued the program is “rampant with fraud” and isn’t aimed at helping increase diversity.
The bill would also cap the number of refugees allowed into the country annually at 50,000, similar to recent guidance from Trump.
The legislation was met with quick blowback from Democrats.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) called the decision to nix the State Department lottery as “senseless.”
“This legislation sends a terrible message to the rest of the world and is unquestionably a job killer,” she said. “As a nation of immigrants, this bill runs counter to our values.”
Despite this opposition, the two Republicans senators are hopeful that they will see this bill on the floor of the Senate this year.