WASHINGTON — Texas lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are chiming in on The RAISE Act, a Senate immigration bill that would slash legal immigration by nearly half.

Democrats were in solidarity in their criticism, but it is support from Republicans that will determine the future of the bill, which needs 60 votes to pass the Senate. It currently doesn't have partner legislation in the House, and some Republicans said the bill may be only a starting point for conversation about immigration reform.

Introduced by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Georgia Sen. David Perdue  in February, the bill would eliminate specific visa programs, ban family chain migration and implement a points system for entry that would favor English speaking, educated applicants. President Trump put the bill back in the spotlight on Wednesday when he hosted Cotton and Perdue and said he supports the legislation.

Democrats were quick to point out that they see the bill as counterproductive.

"We need immigration reform, but this proposal moves us in the wrong direction," Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, said in a statement to The Dallas Morning News. "As a country of immigrants, we need a system that is more compassionate, not less; and that brings families together instead of tearing them apart."

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said Trump's support is in keeping with what he said was the administration's pattern of anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

"This new proposal is based on the false premise that all immigrants, including those who enter the country legally, are a drag on our economy," he said in a written statement. "It runs counter to the spirit of our nation and everything that makes the United States a world leader."

Some Houston Democrats took to Twitter to criticize the bill, with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee calling it "race and ethnic baiting" by the Trump administration and Rep. Gene Green calling it "a reactive measure" that would hurt businesses instead of creating jobs.

Rep. Filemon Vela called Trump’s support for the policy “stupid and shortsighted” in a statement. Trump “seems to forget that his own mother, Mary Anne Macleod, came into this country from Scotland as a domestic worker, with only $50 in her pocket,” the Brownsville Democrat added. “In other words, this policy would have barred entry to his mother.”

In a similar vein, Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said Wednesday that the policy's new point system would likely have barred Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father from entry into the country. Cruz’s website describes how his father arrived from Cuba “penniless and not speaking a word of English.” 

GOP Reaction

Cruz’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the bill.

"I don't think it's ready for a vote," Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn said of the bill during a media call Thursday afternoon. "It was useful to engage people, to get them to start thinking about, should our immigration system be based purely on family relationships or on the skills, talents and contribution immigrants can make to our country.”

In terms of immigration levels, "there isn't any arbitrary number that I'm aware of that is compelling," he said, citing the United States' high naturalization rate of about a million people per year. But it could be worth having hearings to discuss what levels of legal immigrants could be assimilated into the American population without harming American workers, he added.

San Antonio Rep. Lamar Smith was vocal with his support of the bill, telling NPRThursday morning that he would sponsor partner legislation in the House. 

"It will help protect American workers and it will help, frankly, increase economic growth," he said, citing less job competition between  low skill immigrants and blue collar Americans and more immigrants who will start businesses."

He disagreed with the assertion that American workers often do not want the jobs low skill immigrants accept, saying that immigrants drive wages down. 

"Americans may not want to work for those wages, but if the low-skilled, uneducated immigrants are reduced in number, it is likely that those wages will go up and that will attract more American workers at a higher pay,” Smith said.

He said there wasn't "any room for talking about amnesty at this point until we secure the border," but added that a bill coming out of the House judiciary committee in September would reform and expand the guest worker program to address concerns over labor decreases in the agriculture industry.

Rep. Michael McCaul, the Austin Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee and whose name is being floated as Trump seeks a new homeland security secretary, has not weighed in on the legislation. Through an aide, he declined to comment.

Rep. Will Hurd, R- San Antonio, criticized the bill during a CNN interview Wednesday. 

"If you can't have a bipartisan piece of legislation on immigration, it's not going to go anywhere in the Senate," said Hurd, whose sprawling border district stretches into Far West Texas.

Hurd said the points system would not support the streamlined, market-based approach he favors for immigration reform. 

"We have benefited from the brain drain of every other country and I want to continue that ... and I want to benefit from the hard-working drain, too," he said. "If you're going to be a productive member of our society, let's get you here as quickly as possible, but let's do it legally."