In the United States, President Donald Trump has announced his support for an immigration bill that would work on a point-based system that’s likely to limit applicants, including many Africans, who previously obtained visas under the U.S. Diversity Visa program.
Called the RAISE Act, it “eliminates the outdated Diversity Visa lottery system, which serves questionable economic and humanitarian interests,” the White House said in a statement. People in all African nations except Nigeria were eligible to apply for one of the 50,000 annual diversity visas under the 2018 guidelines.
The RAISE legislation also is closely aligned with the more protectionist stance of the Trump administration, with an as-yet unproven assumption that it will protect low-skill American jobs for citizens rather than forcing them to compete with foreign-born workers.
“For decades, low-skilled and unskilled immigration into the United States has surged, depressing wages and harming America’s most vulnerable citizens,” the White House said. Trump has referred to the existing system as “just a terrible system where anybody comes in.”
The new approach lowers the overall refugee cap to 50,000 annually, in keeping with Trump’s previous targets, and would be based on a point system that rewards younger immigrants with university degrees who speak English, while eliminating social assistance eligibility for immigrants.
The draft bill includes pages of explanation of the RAISE point system, and how it scores everything from a foreign doctoral STEM degree (10 points) to a recent Olympic medal winner (15 points) to an applicant with a high-paying job offer (13 points).
A February report from the Pew Research Center found that Africans still accounted for just 4.8 percent of immigrants to the U.S., but they accounted for the fastest growth rate by far at 41 percent. In 2015, the most recent data year available, there were 22,472 refugees admitted to the U.S. who claimed an African nationality.
“African immigrants from the sub-Saharan region are also more likely than immigrants overall to enter the U.S. through the diversity visa program – an act passed in 1990 to encourage immigration from underrepresented nations,” the Pew report said.