August 3, 2017

Los Angeles, CA - Please attribute the following statement on legislation introduced Wednesday by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) that would severely curb legal immigration levels to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):

"Legislators often labor to identify clever and inspiring acronyms for their proposed bills. Senators Cotton and Perdue, whose RAISE Act yesterday garnered the support of the White House, gave up too soon in deriving the acronym for their bill. I offer the following amendment to more accurately describe the legislation: the RAISIN Act – Revamping American Immigration to Spur Incipient Nativism.

The RAISIN aptly predicts the appropriate outcome of this legislative proposal – it should dry on the vine for lack of support. The bill should end up yet another shriveled monument to the Administration’s legislative failures. Moreover, the RAISIN also symbolizes what this legislation would do to critical industries like agriculture, an industry with not only historical centrality to our nation, but a contemporary matter of national security. Our overseas rivals would like nothing better than for our crops to shrivel for lack of an adequate workforce, preventing our nation from feeding itself in any international conflict.

Extended families have proven a tremendous engine of economic advancement, yet this bill would further an anti-family agenda by adopting a very narrow, and culturally specific, notion of immediate family primacy. Moreover, our history abounds with examples of non-English-speaking immigrants who come to our country and build economic empires through innovation, intelligence, and great effort, yet this bill would place such immigrants at the bottom of the list for admission. MALDEF calls upon Congress to reject the RAISIN Act and to eschew any attempts to further embed racism and nativism in our federal immigration laws. Reform efforts should instead begin with rooting out the current racism in our laws, starting with eliminating national-origin quotas."

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund