Two top US senators have proposed a legislation to cut the number of legal immigrants to America by half within a decade, a move that could adversely hit those aspiring to get a green card or permanent residency in the US, including a large number of Indians.
The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment, or RAISE, Act, introduced by Republican senator Tom Cotton and David Perdue from the Democratic party, would alter the US immigration system to significantly reduce the number of foreigners admitted to the country without a skills-based visa.
The bill proposed to reduce the number of green card or legal permanent residency issued every year from the current about a million to half a million.
The passage of the bill, which is said to have the support of the Trump administration, will have a major impact on hundreds and thousands of Indian Americans who are currently painfully waiting to get their green cards on employment-based categories.
Notably, the current wait period for an Indian to get a green card varies from 10 years to 35 years and this could increase if the proposed bill becomes a law. The bill however does not focus on H-1B visas.
Cotton argued that the growth in legal immigration in recent decades had led to a "sharp decline in wages for working Americans" and that the bill represented an effort to move the US "to a more merit-based system like Canada and Australia".
"It's time our immigration system started working for American workers," Cotton said.
"The RAISE Act would promote higher wages on which all working Americans can build a future -- whether your family came over here on the Mayflower or you just took the oath of citizenship," he added.
The RAISE Act would lower overall immigration to 6,37,960 in its first year and to 5,39,958 by its tenth year, a 50 per cent reduction from the 1,051,031 immigrants who arrived in 2015.
"We are taking action to fix some of the shortcomings in our legal immigration system," Perdue said. "Returning to our historically normal levels of legal immigration will help improve the quality of American jobs and wages," he added.
The RAISE Act, among other things, would retain immigration preferences for the spouses and minor children of US citizens and legal permanent residents while eliminating preferences for certain categories of extended and adult family members.
It also proposes to eliminate diversity visa lottery.
"The Diversity Lottery is plagued with fraud, advances no economic or humanitarian interest, and does not even deliver the diversity of its namesake. The RAISE Act would eliminate the 50,000 visas arbitrarily allocated to this lottery," it said.
Image: A file photograph of demonstrators demanding reforms in US immigration laws. Photograph: Reuters.