Utah Immigration Reform Coalition responds to the RAISE Act and calls for modernized system that harnesses the Power of Immigrants

The Utah Immigration Reform Coalition responded to the RAISE Act, new legislation sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), and called for a revised solution that harnesses the economic power of foreign-born workers in the U.S. economy.

The proposed bill was endorsed this week by President Trump, and called for a substantial limit to legal immigration with the intended outcome of raising wages for American workers. Instead, the bill will have negative economic impact on both American and foreign-born workers.

While the coalition agrees on the need to modernize our broken immigration system with merit-based solutions, the bill contains a broad misconception that immigrants are hindering the wages of American workers. In fact, research has shown time and time again that foreign-born workers often act as key drivers ofinnovation and job creation, and do their part in filling the workforce gaps that the American economy faces with its ongoing aging crisis. Instead, the coalition is urging Congress to take an approach that harnesses the power of immigrants to create a streamlined process that attracts the best talent, builds the workforce needed to support America’s industries, and ultimately lays the groundwork for greater economic growth. 

“While most agree that our country’s immigration system and policy is broken and outdated, the RAISE Act is not the solution our country needs.  It falsely assumes that legal immigration harms our economy, when study after study from leading nonpartisan groups and think tanks confirm that legal immigration actually helps grow our economy,” said Tim Wheelwright, Salt Lake City Immigration Attorney and Immigration Reform Task Force Chair at the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. “The need to reform our immigration system has never been greater, but the RAISE Act would actually be a big step backwards.  I urge Utah’s Congressional delegation to oppose the RAISE Act.”

Former Utah Republican Party Chairman Stan Lockhart added: “We all agree our immigration system needs reform. The election rhetoric of 2016 was to make it harder to come here illegally, but easier to come here legally. That is not what this bill does. Limiting even more of those who can come legally actually has the opposite effect by providing greater incentive to come illegally. It’s the wrong policy for America.”

The state coalition is sponsored by New American Economy (NAE), a bipartisan organization that supports immigration reforms that help both American workers and immigrants build a better economy. The coalition utilizes local leadership roles and NAE’s detailed research on immigrants to create a constructive platform to discuss immigration reform with Congress.

“Closing our doors to immigrants won’t reverse any of the challenges we face in today’s global economy,” said former Utah State Representative Holly Richardson. “Instead, such policy would be severely limiting one of our country’s longstanding strengths, which is the willingness to embrace the best and brightest from across the world. Immigrants are part of the economic engine that makes this country run and should be embraced as the contributors they are.”