RAISE Act alterations raise concerns for diversity

Photo courtesy of Xavier University | Students participate in a celebration of the Hindu festival Holi this past April. Sophomore International student Sahil Dasawat of India expressed the importance of diversity in light of recently proposed immigration reform.

President Donald Trump revealed his plans to overhaul the current immigration system at the beginning of this month by expressing his sup- port of the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, which had been introduced to the Senate in February. After the act failed to go through, Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue recently reintroduced the plan with new alterations.

The policy changes, backed by Trump, will entail a major shift to a merit-based system. Trump stated in a press conference on Aug. 2 that by reducing the United States’ intake of unskilled workers, eliminating lottery visas and ending chain migration, he can create “an immigration system that puts America first.”

The policy changes have not gone without their opponents. Sophomore international student Sahil Dasawat, who is from Lucknow, India, expressed his disappointment with the possible immigration reform.

“America is supposed to be a melting pot,” Dasawat said.

One complex aspect of the RAISE Act is the decreased number of unskilled immigrants it permits. Although some believe the nation benefits from unskilled immigrants and states such as California are in need of them, Trump’s goal is to sharpen America’s competitive edge by bringing in people who “add economic growth” to the country.

According to the White House, 50 percent of all immigrant households receive welfare benefits, compared to 30 percent of native households. Trump’s policy changes are aimed at preventing immigrants from collecting welfare. He plans to accomplish this by cutting the allotment of Green Cards for unskilled immigrants by 50 percent and reforming the standards for legal immigration to revolve around education, English language ability, age and high-paying job offers.

Trump’s goal is to “reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars” by exclusively favoring English speaking immigrants. This particular aspect of the plan has been controversial.

History has shown that while the English language has become quite widespread, America’s roots remain richly diverse. Beginning as a resting place for many cultures, America has never officially chosen a national language.

Throughout the mid-twentieth century, immigration became more limited, prompting the belief that America belongs only to English speakers.

Today’s patterns indicate that children of immigrants become English speakers and often lose, or never fully grasp, their heritage language. Many questions are being asked about the changing role of language and culture in America. As Trump looks to transform immigration policies, Americans grapple with the balance between becoming a unified international presence and creating a more diverse and accepting environment.

Sahil alluded to this issue when describing his Hindu traditions and his excitement at Xavier’s celebration of the Hindu Holi festival where powdered colors are thrown.

He recalled the joy that came with sharing his culture with fellow students and being able to “throw around the colors, so that life became more unique, more colorful, and not just black and white.”

In sharing this experience, Sahil spoke to what he sees as the importance of cultural diversity and the ability to share it within America and on Xavier’s campus. Many questions still remain about the act and how the country’s diversity will be affected.

By: Ellen Braverman ~Guest Writer~