SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Community members in Sioux Falls are reacting to the new immigration reform bill President Trump introduced to the Senate Wednesday.
The RAISE Act would make some big changes to the legal immigration process including reducing the number of immigrants by 50% over the next 10 years. It would create an immigration system based on merit and jobs skills, instead of family connections like the current system.
Several businesses in Sioux Falls employ immigrants.
Latino community members make up a large section of the work force, from the medical field to the agriculture industry.
Some worry about the unintended impacts of this bill.
Dr. Moises Hernandez Leon came to the United States a year and a half ago from Mexico.
“On Valentine’s Day three years ago people tried to kidnap me along with my daughter while I was taking her to school,” he said.
He had a connection in Sioux Falls and moved here as quickly as he could becoming a partner at Envive Chiropractic.
But his investor’s visa is up soon.
“This coming December I will have to reapply for it and I don't know how this proposal could affect my approval or not,” he said.
Long-time Sioux Falls Latino leader Juan Bonilla says people just like Dr. Hernandez Leon make up a huge part of the economy in the area.
“Latino business in Sioux Falls only is higher than the new business percentage in the United States,” Bonilla said.
He also says Latinos make up a sizeable amount of the agricultural labor force and worries how a merit based immigration system could affect jobs in that industry.
“What happens in South Dakota if the immigration or the Latinos cannot be allowed to work in the dairy farms and the dairy farm industry be affected,” he said.
Immigration attorney Henry Evans says he has concerns about cutting immigration numbers in half.
“What this bill is going to do is it's going to reduce legal immigration and I don't know if there will be a consequence that illegal immigration is going to go up,” Evan said.
US Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta spoke at Raven Industries in Sioux Falls Thursday as part of the Western Governors’ Association Conference.
He was asked about Trump's new bill and how immigration reform affects the work force.
“If we cannot find someone who can fill the job, immigration is legal and appropriate, but replacing American workers with foreign workers who are willing to do the job for less is a disservice,” Acosta said.
Bonilla says while he does find the idea of the RAISE Act concerning, he doesn't think this new immigration reform bill is going to make it through Congress.
Senator Mike Rounds (R- South Dakota) released a statement regarding the RAISE Act and can be found next to this article.