Midwestern Americans split on Trump’s RAISE Act

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On August 2nd in the following tweet, Donald Trump endorsed the revised RAISE Act co-sponsored by David Perdue, R-Ga. and Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark.  RAISE stands for Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment.

The bill’s primary focus is to pursue what is termed a “Merit Based” Immigration system where immigrants would be judged on their educational background, English-speaking ability, past achievements and entrepreneurship.  This contrasts with current laws that admit more people based on their familiar ties to United States citizens rather than the skills they could bring.  Many claim that this will reduce the overall immigration level due to a higher bar for admittance, but the bill itself does not restrict immigration to a particular number.  The bill does cap refugees admitted outside of the merit-based system to 50,000, which is 40% fewer than in 2016.  Another change is to eliminate the diversity lottery, which grants visas to immigrants from countries that currently have low immigration rates to the United States.

The merit based system that would judge the bulk of applicants uses the following scoring:

Age Educational Achievement English Proficiency Special Categories Salary
Age Range Score Degree Score Level Score Description Score Job Offer Salary Score
17 and under 0 U.S. or foreign high school 1 <50th percentile 0 Nobel Lauretes or similar 25 >150% of Median US household Income 5
18–21 6 Foreign bachelor’s 5 60th percentile 6 Individual Olympic medal winners 15 >200% of Median US household Income 8
22–25 8 U.S. bachelor’s 6 70th percentile 10 Investment of $1.35M in new business 6 >300% of Median US household Income 13
26–30 10 Foreign STEM master’s 7 80th percentile 11 Investment of $1.80M in new business 12
31–35 8 U.S. STEM master’s 8 90th percentile 12
36–40 6 Foreign STEM doctorate or professional 10
41–45 4 U.S. STEM doctorate or professional 13
46–50 2
51 and older 0


A minimum score of 30 would be required for consideration of admittance.  This is a high bar when considering; education, English proficiency, and a high paying job offer would be required for almost all applicants.

Delphi Analytica wondered what Americans in the Midwest thought of this proposed immigration act, which seemingly would restrict immigrants to an almost entirely English speaking and college educated group.  We polled 666 people in these states between August 2 and August 6 and found 47% of those that stated an opinion supported the RAISE act while 53% opposed. Looking at the split by gender, 56% of women opposed the policy and men were split 50/50.

As expected, Democrats and Republicans are split on the issue by party lines, while Independents welcomed the reform nearly 3 to 2. A recent Morning Consult poll suggested this policy is favored by a majority Americans in the U.S., but our results in the Midwestern states that sealed the victory for Donald Trump in November 2016, may not be sold on a policy that seems unlikely to pass.


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