US immigration authorities are intending to give preferential treatment to visa seekers who are better educated and trained and are able to contribute to the country’s economy under a provision of the new bill being discussed in Congress that appears to have been given little attention.
The bipartisan bill would rewrite the 50-year-old standards under which legal immigration operates in order to favor skills instead of family ties. Experts say that those who would end up winners from such a system would be mostly people who come from Asia, in particular China, India and the Philippines, whose people are much more likely to have gone to college or received training on-the-job in skilled occupations such as technology and engineering, although the big losers are likely to be those from Central America and Mexico.
The new system, which has been advocated for some time by politicians and economists who regard the primary aim of immigration is to serve the growth of the economy, would replace one whose main aim is to reunite families. However, while much attention has been focused on offering a path to US citizenship to the almost 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the country, controversy could also be about to erupt over the merit-based immigration system proposal.
“What does that mean for someone who needs their sibling to be here because they are facing trauma?” asks Jen Smyers from the Church World Service humanitarian group. “What does it mean for a woman in Iran who does not have education opportunities?”