Chinese Americans divided on Trump's new immigration bill

Updated 2017-08-07 09:06:05 Xinhua

Chinese Americans are weighing new immigration policy proposals endorsed by President Donald Trump last week that would reduce the number of people eligible for family visas and cut overall immigration by 50 percent within 10 years.

The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, sponsored by Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, would give preference to English speakers, educated immigrants, and high-wage earners by unveiling a "merit-based" system.

Many Chinese Americans, who have strong traditional family values, are concerned mostly about the bill's elimination of the prioritization of green cards for adult children and extended family of those already in the states.

"The bill prevents parents from uniting with their children here, and that makes them more vulnerable as they already have difficulties in adapting to the adopted country, this is what I worry about the bill," Wuchen Yihui, who immigrated to the states four years ago, told Xinhua in a recent interview in Chinatown, New York City.

Alice could agree no more with Wuchen. The young lady from Los Angeles felt very frustrated with the proposed policy changes.

"I think it's unfair to most people. if the bill is passed by the Congress, it would be difficult for my parents to come, and we can hardly go back to see them often, it's unreasonable," she said.

"I think to a certain degree the grading system is necessary, I can understand that. But the union of families must be considered, which is very, very important. The United States is an immigrant country, it can't be too interest-oriented on all kinds of issues," said a teacher surnamed Chen from Chicago.

The overwhelming majority of Asian immigrants come to the U.S. through the family-based system and those who come to the country on employment-based visas often rely on the family-based system to reunite with other family members, according to a report by HuffPost.

However the bill would cut family-based immigrant visas to 88,000 each year -- compare that to the 673,000 people who received green cards through the family based system during the 2015 fiscal year alone.

As to the language component and the "merit-based" system of the RAISE Act, quite a few Chinese Americans interviewed by Xinhua found them not a problem.

"Overall Trump's immigration reform has its own logic," said Huang Xingqun, a middle-aged man living in Los Angeles, "He wants to make America great again, he is right from the point view of a businessman, if too many immigrants come, some of them are too old to work, and just rely on welfare, it's unaffordable for any country."

"I think (Trump's) policy would be better, because all parties would get what they want, which means if you have a specialty you will be more recognized," said a white-collar worker from Chicago, surnamed Zheng.

Zhen Miaozheng, who immigrated to the U.S. with family visa, believed the policy changes make sense too.

"You have to speak English relatively well. You should not live on just welfare. You have to contribute to the country. All the new immigrants should work hard to make a decent living here, there is no such easy thing like only bending down to pick up money."

According to figures from the Department of Homeland Security, over one million immigrants were accepted into the United States for legal permanent residency last year; many are low or unskilled workers or working in low-skilled jobs.

More than 50 percent of all immigrant households receive welfare benefits, compared with only 30 percent of native households in the United States that receive welfare benefits, according to the White House. (Xinhua correspondents Huang Hexun in New York City, Miao Zhuang in Chicago, Huang Chao in Los Angeles contributed to the story)

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