I took the test. I failed.

Granted, I’m not looking for entrance into the U.S.; I was born here. But according to the questionnaire that’s reportedly a part of the qualification protocol under the proposed RAISE Act (“Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy”), I’d have a hard time proving myself worthy of entry.

I answered the questions offered by Time magazine, which are supposed to reflect those required by the RAISE Act, and I scored a pretty miserable 18 out of the minimum 30 required to be considered. I lost on age (zero points – no one over 50, please!); there was no equivalency for my graduate degree – I didn’t specialize in the STEM subjects; my English ability qualifies as “fluent,” so I gained points there; I don’t have a job offer with a salary of more than $77,900; I wouldn’t be investing more than $1.35 million for a new commercial enterprise.

More insanely, I got zero points on “Do you have a Nobel Prize or major international award?” I also bombed on “Have you won an Olympic medal in the past 8 years?”


The RAISE Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and introduced earlier this year, has been endorsed by President Trump – and the real debate begins.

“The RAISE Act puts American workers first,” states a press release from the Office of the White House Press Secretary. The bill will “create a merit-based immigration system that protects our workers, our taxpayers and our economy.”

The release neatly bullet-points highlights of the Act, which we’ll offer here:

  • The RAISE Act replaces the current permanent employment-visa framework with a skills-based system that rewards applicants based on their individual merits. The system rewards education, English-language ability, high-paying job offers, past achievements, and entrepreneurial initiative. This system is similar to the merit- based immigration systems used by Canada and Australia.
  • The RAISE Act reduces overall immigration numbers to limit low-skilled and unskilled labor entering the United States.
  • The RAISE Act prioritizes immediate family members of United States residents, including spouses and minor children, but ends preferences for extended family members and adult children. United States citizens needing to take care of elderly parents can receive renewable, temporary visas for them.
  • The RAISE Act eliminates the outdated Diversity Visa lottery system, which serves questionable economic and humanitarian interests.
  • The RAISE Act limits permanent resident status for refugees to 50,000 a year, in line with the 13-year average.
  • Just spitballing here, but if we severely limit the number of immigrants who are willing to do those jobs that American workers have proved to disdain time and time again, are we really putting American workers first? Can we not legitimately claim that many jobs held by ethnic, U.S.-born Americans are dependent upon the work of “unskilled” immigrant workers? C’mon. How many foreign-born workers seeking employment in the U.S. hold Nobel prizes (25 points), or Olympic medals (15 points)?

Sure, let’s attract highly educated, highly skilled, experienced and wealthy immigrants. But let’s leave the door open for those who don’t have the millions to invest, the Ph.D. in astrophysics or the once-in-a-lifetime awards. We have work to do.

We’ll be following this as it travels through the corridors of Congress, but you might want to sit down and read the bill itself. There’s nothing like being prepared when you’re asked to weigh in.