FORT MYERS, Fla. Jesais Ortegon immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia nearly two decades ago in search of the American dream.
Ortegon didn’t know how to speak English and had no formal job skills, but today he has a degree from Florida Gulf Coast University, works as a realtor and as an account executive at Gartner.
Ortegon believes staying busy and working two demanding jobs while raising two kids is part of the American dream.
If the rules in President Donald Trump’s RAISE Act applied to Ortegon 17 years ago, he might not have been allowed into the country. The proposal gives priority to immigrants who speak English and have specialized job skills.
“I think America was built on the foundation of opening up the doors for immigrants who want to do things right, and I think if you do things right, great results will follow,” Ortegon said.
The proposal would cut legal immigration in the U.S. in half and some citizens believe it should be done.
“Particularly for blue collar workers, if you flood the country with low-skilled workers it suppresses wages,” nearby resident Chris Crowley said.
Pastor Robert Selle, who runs an advocacy group called the Amigos Center, believes decreasing immigration will hurt the country in the long run.
“A lot of the immigrants are younger, so this is the workforce, these are people who are going to be here for decades paying into the system. That’s going to help everybody,” Selle said.
Lawmakers will not make a final decision on the RAISE Act until after Labor day.