A proposal backed by President Donald Trump to cut legal immigration to the United States in half would likely have a profound effect on the Sacramento region.
The bill by two Republican U.S. senators would create a merit-based system for issuing green cards that bestow permanent legal status on immigrants. The current system favors family members of residents already in the United States.
The bill would cut legal immigration by 50 percent within a decade – and 41 percent in its first year.
Nearly 50,000 immigrants came to Sacramento County on green cards between 2008 and 2015, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Sacramento County was one of the 40 leading destinations in America for green card holders.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Two-thirds of those immigrants were relatives of Sacramento residents, the federal data show. Fewer than 10 percent were issued green cards primarily due to their employment-related skills.
The vast majority of green cards were issued to former residents of Mexico, India, the Philippines and 10 other countries.
Other proposals back by Trump would also sharply cut legal immigration to Sacramento.
Almost 2,400 immigrants came to Sacramento County between 2008 and 2015 under a diversity lottery that provides visas to immigrants from countries with low immigration rates.
Fiji, a small island nation with a large diaspora in Sacramento, sent the most immigrants to the region under the diversity lottery. Several countries that were once part of the Soviet Union also sent hundreds of residents here using the lottery.
Earlier this month, a legal immigrant from Uzbekistan in Central Asia ran over dozens of people in New York City, killing eight and injuring nearly a dozen more. The man was granted a green card under the diversity visa lottery. After the attack, Trump called for ending the diversity lottery program.
Trump has also issued an order banning visitors from seven countries, most of them predominantly Muslim. Only a few dozen immigrants from those countries have been issued green cards to settle in Sacramento, with one exception: Iran. More than 1,200 immigrants from Iran were granted green cards to live here between 2008 and 2015.