Under The RAISE Act, Trump Wouldn't Qualify For A Green Card

by Jon Hecht
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Trump administration unveiled a bill that limits legal immigration into America, cutting the distribution green cards overall by half — from roughly 1 million a year to 500,000. But, as Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell pointed out, Trump himself likely wouldn't qualify under the RAISE Act.

According to the immigration plan unveiled on Wednesday, rather than prioritizing immigrants who have connections to the United States, immigration would be based on merit, earning points through different categories like education, English proficiency, age, and whether they have a job offer. Critics note that this policy is at odds with what many see as American values. At a press briefing on Wednesday, White House Adviser Stephen Miller got into a verbal tussle with CNN reporter Jim Acosta over the lines from Emma Lazarus' poem on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." And others pointed to economic analysis showing that cutting legal immigration would hurt the U.S. economy, not create jobs as the president and his team claim it would.

In her Post piece, Rampell highlighted the issues with Trump's immigration policy by looking at how it would affect an applicant like him, looking at how he fares on the various different criteria. An applicant needs 30 points to get in:

Trump would get zero points for age, since the system would prioritize younger applicants. Because he has a bachelor's degree from an American university, he would get six points for education.

For extraordinary achievement, the president would also get no points. (This may be somewhat surprising for a billionaire TV host who became POTUS, but the system only gives points in this category to Nobel Prize and Olympic medal winners.) Trump would, however, get 12 points for entrepreneurial initiative, having invested millions in his businesses.

Rampell got in a dig at Trump by giving him zero points in English proficiency. The test isn't as simple as "can you speak English?" and applicants have to score in the top half of test-takers. She points to the President's recent interview with the Wall Street Journal as reason to doubt he could do that well.

Rampell believes that, under the language of the bill, Trump would actually receive zero points on having a high-paying job offer. According to the legislative language, it seems like you can't count self-employment, since you can't double-count entrepreneurial initiative. She also points out that since an immigrant isn't constitutionally allowed to be president of the United States, that probably wouldn't count on his visa application.

So, there you have it. According to Rampell, Trump would only score 18 points on his green card application, far fewer than the 30 he'd need to get in to the country. For some people, that might be a good thing about his plan. But it's a reminder of something at play in our immigration debate — in many categories, immigrants are already beating Americans.