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Why the Hell Does Immigration Policy Assign the Right to Migrate Based on the Labor Someone Does?

The RAISE Act, would cut the number of “low-skill” green cards by fifty percent over the next ten years.

Hello and welcome back. If you're anything like me, you've been spending a lot of the time lately in a dark room avoiding the heat while seething over the latest attack on our democracy. It wouldn't be a normal week in America without Donald Trump doing something terrible to immigrants, and last week's proposed immigration reform plan really delivered on that.

The RAISE Act, introduced by Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and David Perdue (R-Georgia), would cut the number of "low-skill" green cards by fifty percent over the next ten years and implement a merit-based system that assesses potential immigrants on things like English language proficiency and education level. The bill, which was was defended by Trump's senior policy advisor and walking ulcer Stephen Miller, was criticized for being pretty fucking racist, and just like each time Donald Trump & Company takes a crap on immigrants, a number of people spoke out about what those who perform "low-skill" jobs are capable of.

This is admirable because it's important to push back against these policies in any way possible, and people sharing their stories on social media brings visibility to these issues. However, along with this narrative, there needs to be a discussion about how immigration policy assigns the right to migrate based on the labor someone produces and places a value on certain jobs and industries. You might notice this happening with the rhetoric around farm work, which is often framed as labor that white Americans don't want to do, rather than as jobs that need to be done because if they weren't, there wouldn't be any food to eat and things would get significantly uglier in a very short amount of time. Trump's policies are already creating labor shortages in the agricultural industry, and the RAISE Act, which takes aim at "low-skill" farm work, will no doubt make things even worse.

Another thing to be aware of is emphasizing "legal" over "illegal" immigration, an argument used by liberals and conservatives alike. Both sides stress they want support "legal" immigration, completely ignoring the fact that "illegal" immigrants are intentionally created by a system built to exclude them, and that a person's immigration status can literally change overnight. This particular line of thinking also provides convenient cover for racists of all varieties, because while it's not usually a cool thing to outright hate on people from other countries, it's more acceptable to do so under the guise of being against "illegal" immigration.

As we continue to deal with the GOP's constant attempts to fuck over anyone who isn't them, it's important to understand that communities are comprised of more than people who can work in a specific field of labor. The reality is that people of all kinds need to come and be able to stay in this country for a number of reasons, and the right to entry shouldn't be based upon exclusionary laws that were meant to keep them out in the first place. We need to expand our view of what it means to be an immigrant beyond the narrow scope defined by our lawmakers, and while it looks like the RAISE Act is unlikely to pass, we should use this opportunity to shift how we talk about immigration.

That's it for now, thanks for stopping by and I'll see you all next week.

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