Immigrating to Trump’s America? Philosophers Need Not Apply

Nine years ago, I’d just received my Ph.D. from a department ranked in the top 25 in the United States. I was in my early 30s and had a year of teaching experience at a prestigious liberal arts college under my belt. I had a promising research program and a publication in a top journal in the discipline. And to my delight, I had just received a job offer for a tenure-track job at an up-and-coming state university in the Northeast. Given the cutthroat nature of the market for academic jobs, with its well-known oversupply of Ph.D.s and undersupply of permanent positions, this outcome had been far from guaranteed.

Since then, things have gone well. I’m now a tenured associate professor at the same institution. But had I received this job offer under the newly proposed plan for immigration reform endorsed by President Trump, I’d have been deported back to Canada.

The bill, known as the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act, or RAISE Act, was introduced by two Republican senators, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. It is being called “merit-based and uses a point system to determine who does and does not qualify, weighing factors like education, fluency in English, job-offer salary and investment portfolio. It gives you extra points if you’ve won an Olympic medal or a Nobel Prize. It prioritizes applicants who are between the ages of 26 and 30, who are well educated and fluent in English, who have a job offer with a high starting salary and who are already financially well-off. When I plug in my credentials from the time of my job offer (I used a simplified calculator posted by Time magazine recently), I end up with a score of 25. The minimum score needed to apply for legal immigration is 30.

I wouldn’t have passed muster. My main problem? I’m a philosopher.

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