Taking it one step at at time, let’s look at the skills-based rationale of the RAISE Act.

It claims to be a merit-based system where you get a certain number of points from zero to 100. You need at least 30 apply and you should plan to have 40 to have a chance, However, you get 25 for being a Nobel Prize winner or winner of a “major international award,” which is clearly defined, and 15 points if you have earned an Olympic medal in the last eight or fewer years. Therefore, 40 points are already removed for practically 100% of people. Therefore, the new maximum becomes 60. Additionally, the new maximum for 99.9999% of people goes down from 60 to 48 because most people won’t be bringing a Ph.D and $1.8 million in foreign currency. Finally, given all the field requirements before your institution would officially confer your degree, it’d be awfully hard to obtain your Ph.D before you’re 31, costing almost everybody another two points. So your new maximum is 46, and the minimum is still 30.

The upside is that you have less to worry about with a score of 35/100 when almost no one is getting higher than a 46. I suppose 35/100 is 35% or a huge F or failing grade but 35/46 is a C, which I suppose is average. Therefore, 35 may actually get you into the U.S. Maybe.

I do need to mention a crucial point, which is that Barack Obama had already shifted the United States immigration policy in the direction of a meritocracy, but he did not plan to exclude people while attempting to look like he cares.

Trump also claims that foreign workers have kept wages artificially low by allowing businesses, which may be true, but this plan doesn’t fix that because the salary of someone who actually qualifies to come here would still be lower than what you’d have to pay an American. There just wouldn’t be very many coming here. With so many job openings to fill with perhaps an equal number of job seekers, those jobs would go to Americans since they’re the only ones available, but their salaries wouldn’t be higher because there’s no shortage of workers such that companies would get into a bidding war in which a company raises their salary offer so that a worker chooses them instead of a different company. I don’t know that there’d be a surplus of workers either, such that workers would have to get into a bidding war with each other to lower what salary they’d be willing to accept. Surplus labor supply for these critical industries just can’t happen because those workers might be willing but couldn’t fill the positions because they don’t yet have the skills. Therefore, the RAISE Act isn’t like to raise wages and, in the long-run, with a surplus or educated workers, wages could actually come down.

An additional thing to mention, by the way, is that we could actually be incentivizing someone with a lot of money, only “Moderate” English, and not much skill to come here first and start a business that then restricts hiring to only people from his or her own country who maybe don’t have a lot of money but qualify to come here because of their skills. They wouldn’t be American, and they’d qualify. So the RAISE Act, in short, doesn’t work.

In reference to the Opioid Epidemic, Trump said that going after suppliers never works because, as long as there’s demand for drugs, there’d always be someone willing to supply them no matter the risk. So he wants to go after the victims. However, he’s going after labor demand (companies) instead of labor supply (workers) in this case, and with his logic, if there’s labor demand, there will always be someone willing to provide labor supply.

I’m not trying to poke holes in it! Just, with a full analysis, it doesn’t hold water well.

I talked about foreign investment, money coming in from abroad, as a separate issues from international competitiveness, but the effects of the RAISE Act on each of these issues is really the same. Basically, Trump wants us to be the best, and he thinks by getting the best people, keeping people he thinks are liabilities out, and training people who are already here that we can accomplish that. However, other countries may be trying to do the same thing, and the RAISE Act leaves open loopholes, though not much more than loopholes you’d only find if you were looking for them.

Since he’s trying to reduce exploitation of loopholes and those exploiters are looking, they’ll probably find them. Even I found a couple, and I’m definitely not an outsourcing company looking to hire people from abroad to package job descriptions in a way that can be sold overseas to countries that do have excess labor supply for a very cheap price even including some training costs.

Basically, large companies from India who are already doing this can still run outsourcing companies that exist solely to automate jobs and send them back to India. They figure out all the details, put together training plans and educate Indian workers via GoToMeeting or something else on the awesome Citrix platform. They bring in a few Indian people whose qualifications may fit the terms of the RAISE Act but whose actual job description is vague and focuses mostly on this job shifting back from the United States to India. Companies are Infosys, Tata Consulting, and Cognizant do this all the time, and they’ll be able to continue doing it.

Another loophole is to offer salaries much higher than anyone dreamed of getting and then not pay them more even though you’re giving them more responsibilities. That’s already common practice for American employees at most corporate offices. We even jokingly warn people not to ask for too much more responsibility because the raise that seems implied is really happening much anymore. Moreover, these workers would have to leave the country if they complain enough to actually get fired. Companies would at least be able to do this until workers get green cards, which is why you could switch employers without that new employer paying to sponsor you. At that point, if you’re qualified for the job, your immigration status would put you at the back of the line.

All of this can still happen under the RAISE Act.

Finally, this regulation will definitely hurt GDP growth in the medium term as well as the long-term. There will very likely be short-term gains, and I don’t think that has as much to do with wanting to be reelected as it has to do with the mentality that short-term gains are good and long-term declines are not his fault.

Once Trump gets his tremendous increase in GDP, it’ll crash due to excessive risk, low wages that can’t support the consumer economy (the “C”), low taxes (that “T” I told you about…there it is) that can’t support government spending (the “G”) in industries dependent on government contracts, and of course the lack of confidence and subsequent investment and hiring due to a declining stock market when Trump’s government doesn’t step in to stabilize GDP via government spending because he doesn’t want to and can’t afford because he was taxing those who have little they can pay and not taxing people and corporations who have a lot they can pay!

While we’re at it, other issues with government spending that are actually moot are spending on affordable housing, healthcare, etc for refugees and others just starting out in the United States. It doesn’t matter because we don’t have to worry about having those funds since Trump wouldn’t allow anyone in that would need those funds. So, when Trump doesn’t pay for these assistance programs that help millions and millions of people, you can sleep well knowing that he’s not cutting funding for as many people as you’d think. I’d probably just take a nap instead of sleeping through the night because, well, those people our government is responsible for helping get on their feet are going to continue suffering overseas and dying overseas because Trump turned his back on them.

That brings me to the topic of culture. Our country is known for something: helping. We’re known for bringing in people that nobody else wants. That perhaps is our culture. We help people in need, whether it’s marathon runners so exhausted after the Boston Marathon but finding a sense of purpose and meaning of life in helping those hurt and in danger during the 2013 Boston Bombing or whether it’s a more abstract form of assistance wherein we think about prosperity and happiness and freedom in terms of their comparative levels between our country and other countries. The manifestation of those feelings doesn’t really look like what the RAISE Act is asking us to do. There’s a mismatch.

Trump wants to stop the Diversity Visa program, which basically sums up our culture: sure you can come in, don’t even think twice, we love you. It has no ties to the economy or anything else. It’s blind to where you come from. It doesn’t care who you are or where you came from. Trump wants to end that, and that’s entirely because he doesn’t have those feelings. He doesn’t feel that way about people from other countries.

Note that this is the breakdown of people coming here legally. Not so much from diversity, therefore not fixing much:


Also note that I mentioned Trump wants to bring in parents of U.S. citizens. As you can see, that’s already happening a lot.

He also wants to reduce the annual number of refugees to 50,000, which shows he not only cares very little about you regardless of where you come from but cares even less about you if you’re worse off.

He also wants to enforce the way we define a “family” unit. He wants to force other people overseas to agree that a family includes just parents and kids. Therefore, Trump doesn’t think a family with grandparents, aunts and uncles, or cousins isn’t really a family, and he wants to enforce that definition globally.

Clearly, this is going to upset many families. Frankly, I don’t think they’ll care much how Trump defines them, but I do think they’ll change the way they think of all of us because, which is a result that dramatically affects all of us when we travel and via their government’s foreign policy changes.


  1. I didn’t even come close to qualifying 18 out of 30. I’m 65 with a bachelor’s degree and the rest of my answers were the same as yours.

    Trump is doing the U.S. a huge disfavor, for most immigrants are very imaginative at pulling financial opportunities together. They see more with their fresh perspective.

    It’s obvious what Trump is trying to do – create a nation of only wealthy people.

    1. Don’t despair. This test was intended to disqualify most people. I hope a majority of Congress sees that the RAISE Act is just another way to keep people out.

      I agree with you. Trump is showing that socioeconomic discrimination is real and dangerous.

  2. While I do have a Master’s Degree from the University of San Francisco, I believe financially I would still fall short. It is redundant for me as I was born there and left even before Obama was elected.
    Have you thought of doing a post on those getting out, those who got out and those who want to but haven’t figured out how? I know that the numbers of those giving up their citizenship have sharply escalated.
    Thanks for choosing to follow one of my blogs. I hope you continue to enjoy the posts. Léa

    1. Thank you, Léa. If you haven’t formally renounced citizenship, then you don’t need to qualify.

      You’re correct. The number of people who leave every year has spiked. They raised the fee from $450 to $2,350, but it keeps rising.

      You seem to know more about this. Could you help us all understand a little better?

    2. I’m not exactly sure what you want? I must complete my request for French citizenship before renouncing. I’ll do my best with your questions but much is available on the internet. It would have been easy to go to Canada as I have family there and I believe there may still be some in Sweden but I’m afraid I love the sea and the sun so the Mediterranean was my first choice and here I am.

    3. Hi Léa. This is an academic blog so if you have any insights, reports, or ways to help people in a similar situation, we welcome that.

      Here are some suggestions: How long does it take to fully renounce from start to finish? Is your situation, leaving the U.S. for France, typical, or is it much different going from the U.S. to other countries or from other countries to France? How welcoming are most countries when they know you’re coming from the U.S.? Does France give you a French test before accepting you?

      If you have any information, I’m sure you could be helpful to others looking to move.

    4. I’m afraid there isn’t a menu that I can pick and choose from. Also, what was true for me coming a decade ago has surely changed at least some. I didn’t come as an immigrant but I came for a year for which I obtained my Long Term Visa or Carte de Sejour. I had to do some paperwork for the first five years, things have changed, but then applied for residency which I have. Any homework you do before hand will help. I was told that there would be a test in French and if so, I believe it was more being able to communicate with the person who you report to. I read French much better than I speak it. I’m an introvert and so I don’t like talking if I don’t have to. Since I read a lot, and love the French poets not to mention I write myself, that is what I focused the conversation on and it worked. One thing I did that saved me some headaches was communicate with someone who answered a question on one of those ex-pat sites. She emailed me and we kept communicating. When the time came to apply for the visa, she sent me copies of all her identification and insisted I use her address. We are still friends. Another thing that saved me thousands of dollars was a little book I read. I believe the authors name is Rosanne Knorr? The book was The Grown-Ups Guide to Running Away From Home but it has been updated since I left. Before you pack, check into which states have reciprocity for a driver’s license. When I left there were only five or six out of all fifty states. I managed to get one in one of them and later saw what a friend went through that had to earn hers here. Try to find someone in the Country you choose to go to and see what you can learn. There are ex-pat websites but I’ve seen too many errors there. However, like I said before things keep changing. Make a trip there and do it in the season that affects you most. You may require a warmer or cooler climate. As far as the big renounce goes, I am waiting until I have my French passport in hand. It impossible to say how welcoming people are as that is so individual. I had always heard that the French hated Americans and that is diametrically opposed to my experience. However, there is always “The Ugly American” attitude and politeness can go a long way. I’ve been to a number of Countries in my life but not to live. I am here and have no desire to be anywhere else.
      I really must go but if you have more specific questions, you know where to find me. Bonne Chance!

    5. Thank you for your reply. I think you don’t know how much you provided. There’s no menu, but you’ve certainly helped. I would’ve never thought about drivers license reciprocity.

      Thank you for helping. I don’t plan to leave–I did consider Carte de Sejour though–but I’m sure there’s someone out there that you’ve just helped, and that’s awesome.


    6. Lovely if I was able to help. Different countries have different requirements and they are all subject to change. While the ex-pat sites can be useful, they can also be wrong. Yes, the driver’s license issue save me at least three thousand and lots of time. I haven’t seen the updated copy of her book but I do believe there is now more than one and more Country specific. A man who had moved to France about a decade before I did recommended the book on one of the ex-pat sites. Also making a friend here even before visiting has been a huge bonus.
      A demain,

    7. Thanks Léa. I know the process is quite involved, but you’ve done your research. I think you’re going to have a great time there. I’m excited for you.

      If I know someone moving to France, I’ll let them know you’ve been helpful.

    8. Yes, but like elsewhere, the process changes so if I were coming now, I would be looking into what was current. However, I do recommend that book as it has a lot of little things one might overlook. Best wishes, Léa

  3. My partner and I are both born here and it would take us together to make it in. She’s an adjunct professor with a Masters and only gets 18 points whereas I squeak out 24 points with only my Bachelors.
    This is ridiculous. And any educator (or any kid who ever made it anywhere) can tell you standardized testing is a measure of your ability to take a test. Nothing more.

    1. There are many people that wouldn’t qualify. This is not meant to reform immigration but to stop it, to exclude people.

      This could be an easy one to stop. A simple presentation of the math could show the real number of people who would qualify, and I may be able to put that together and pass it along to Congress.

  4. Here is my problem with it. I would not even qualify. I have a bachelors in a STEM field, make good money, and fluent in English. Of course, I guess I am too old (mid 40s) and poor to be worthwhile. I guess the days when someone can come here work hard and succeed are long gone.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree. Trump thinks he’s supposed to recruit the best talent, but you can’t run a country like a company.

      Several combinations on that test show that the RAISE Act is intended to block entry.

      I think he learned with healthcare that he can’t tell Congress to just do whatever he wants. He said “there’s a narrow path on healthcare…you change one thing and lose two Republicans…you change something else and lose a Democrat.”

      Now he’s trying to create a bill that will pass in Congress without them realizing its real intentions.

    1. Thank you, Nasir.

      If you or your clients request further information about this post or anything in my other posts, I’m happy to answer your questions.

      Likewise, if you have additional information, I’m happy to have you here!

  5. There are many things wrong here but one item I want to point out is the education field. I have a master’s degree but not in STEM. What would I put for education then? (Rhetorical question that doesn’t actually need an answer.)

    1. Thank you. Great question!

      Your masters degree would have to be a professional degree like medicine, law, MBA, or you’d have to select bachelors degree.

      Is there anything else I can help you with?

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