More Than 600 Businesses Urge Congress to Act on Immigration Reform - February 28, 2014
Immigrants in America: Open For Business | Commentary - February 26, 2014
by Hector Barreto
If Congress would look at immigration reform as an opportunity, 2014 would be the year to make significant changes happen for the future of this nation.
In January, House Republicans took a step in the right direction. They showed promising determination on this issue in order to achieve a more secure America, a fair and streamlined system of legal immigration, along with an expansion of the flexibility of our nation’s labor force and economic growth.
The historic opportunity appeared to be a new tide in Washington in terms of immigration reform, but there are members on both sides that don’t appreciate the importance of immigration reform and its benefits to our collective future.
An overwhelming majority of Americans understand that the current immigration system is unacceptable, and they are demanding action from their elected officials. They are eager to see their politicians come together in true bipartisan support and get it done.
BNA Daily Labor Report: Economists Push for Immigration Overhaul, Acknowledge Legislation Faces Uphill Battle - February 25, 2014
Comprehensive immigration legislation would boost the economy and benefit a wide range of workers, including some who are already naturalized citizens, but it faces a difficult road in Congress, economists said during a panel discussion Feb. 24.
"There's an acute need for immigration reform and on the flip side there's also a great opportunity," former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said during the National Association of Business Economics conference. "To me the greatest opportunity in immigration reform is the economic opportunity."
Jennifer Hunt, the Labor Department's chief economist, and Regional Economic Models Inc. Chief Executive Officer Frederick Treyz joined Holtz-Eakin on the panel. The economists argued that many of the provisions laid out in animmigration bill (S. 744) that was passed in the Senate in June 2013 ( 124 DLR AA-1, 6/27/13) would boost the nation's gross domestic product and create jobs by attracting foreign workers and investors to the U.S.
The economists also expressed hope that all or some of the proposed changes could get done this year, saying lawmakers largely favored most of the policies laid out in the Senate legislation. They also acknowledged that debate over a possible "pathway to citizenship" for undocumented workers already in the country, and characterization of the Senate measure as granting "amnesty" to theseimmigrants is likely to slow the legislative process.
Job Growth Expected to Outweigh Losses.
Treyz said two of the most important components of the Senate bill--the revamp and expansion of various visa programs and providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers--would spur economic and job growth by driving up both capital and productivity.
He said the visa changes, aimed at attracting high-skill employees along with lower-skilled laborers and agricultural workers would help increase worker supply and cut out much of the red tape often associated with obtaining temporaryimmigrant labor. While the influx of new job seekers might cause some "crowding out" of current workers, Treyz said those losses would be vastly outweighed by the jobs created as a result of increased global business competitiveness and investment.
"These proposals are about growing the economic pie," Treyz said of the Senate bill. "As well as those who are directly impacted by these reforms, there are broad benefits for all Americans."
Treyz additionally argued that providing a pathway to citizenship for roughly 11 million undocumented workers would raise incomes for many Americans as a result of increased demand and job gains in housing and consumption industries. It also would increase wages for some workers who may be more willing to seek enforcement of existing wage and hour laws without the threat of deportation, according to Treyz
Noting that the policy would be directed at people already living and working in the U.S., he said this portion of the Senate measure wouldn't result in any increase in the workforce or population. "In a sense, it's not about immigration, but looking at existing undocumented workers," Treyz said.
Will It Happen?
Despite what Hunt and Holtz-Eakin described as widespread agreement that the country's current immigration system should be revamped and a consensus in favor of many of the policies laid out in the Senate legislation, the economists said the effort continues to face a number of obstacles.
Hunt said the principles for immigration legislation recently laid out by House Republicans ( 20 DLR A-2, 1/30/14) largely align with President Obama's vision, but added that the president "didn't see what he wanted" with respect to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.
The Republican lawmakers specifically denounced a "special path to citizenship" for undocumented workers already in the country, saying such a move would be unfair to immigrants who come to the U.S. through legal channels, and would be "harmful to promoting the rule of law."
Holtz-Eakin, who served as economic policy director with Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign in 2008, said House Republicans are likely to move for change on a piecemeal basis because the Senate measure has been characterized as granting amnesty to undocumented workers.
"The Senate bill has been characterized as a bad thing in the messaging wars and thus there is the need for the House to do something very different, if only for the reason that it can't look like the Senate bill," he said.
"I don't think the year is over and I don't think all hope should be given up," Holtz-Eakin added, "but it is going to continue to be a very difficult piece of legislation because of its breadth and because of the difficulties of getting legislation through the House."
Cite: 37 DLR A-6 (2014)
The Time Is Now for Immigration Reform - February 24, 2014
by Tom Donohue, President & CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The debate over immigration reform is as hot as ever—and the rhetoric is getting hotter. People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. It would do us good to cool down and reconsider some truths about immigration reform.
Our current system is broken. It isn’t serving the needs of businesses and employees or working for our economy and society. Employers are often unable to hire new high-skilled foreign-born professional workers—even those who are educated in the United States. Why? Because hiring caps were set more than 20 years ago when our economy was one-third its current size. And Congress hasn’t allocated for a single temporary foreign worker to legally enter our country for lesser-skilled year-round jobs—even if a business can’t find sufficient numbers of qualified and interested Americans through rigorous local labor market recruitment.
On top of that, we don’t have a uniform national mandatory electronic employment verification system—without one, the United States will remain a magnet for illegal immigration. More can also be done to keep our borders secure. And, finally, a system in which more than 11 million undocumented immigrants are living and working in our communities in de facto amnesty is indefensible.
Welcoming immigrants is good for our economy and our society. Immigrants do not typically compete with Americans for jobs, and, in fact, create more jobs through entrepreneurship, economic activity, and tax revenues. Immigrants serve as a complement to U.S.-born workers and can help fill labor shortages across the skill spectrum and in key sectors. Immigrants can also help replenish the workforce as baby boomers retire, growing our tax base and raising the worker-to-retiree ratio, which is essential to support programs for the elderly and the less fortunate.
Support for reform has never been stronger. Proponents of commonsense immigration reform include lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as well as labor, business, law enforcement, ethnic organizations, religious groups, and the high-tech industry. Most important, the public is overwhelmingly behind it. Polls consistently show that the majority of voters believe that the status quo on immigration is unacceptable.
There will never be a perfect time for reform. The political landscape isn’t going to be any more conducive to reform in two years or four years. For too long, the can has been kicked down the road. And while we’ve failed to act, the problem has only grown worse. Today, the fact remains that it is in our national interest to get it done.
The case for immigration reform is clear. The need is undeniable. The time is now.
Immigrants Welcome Here - February 19, 2014
Earlier this month, John Boehner declared that it was unlikely that the House of Representatives would pass major immigration reform legislation this year. Given the desperate need for an overhaul of the system, the political gridlock is dismaying. But thankfully it’s not the whole immigration story.
While Congress is locked in ideological battle, an incipient “welcoming” movement is taking root around the country as elected officials and community leaders are increasingly adopting “welcoming plans,” forming “welcoming committees” and issuing “welcoming resolutions” — to attract immigrants and improve relationships between newcomers and those who receive them.
A steady flow of talented, industrious immigrants can fuel a booming economy - February 12, 2014
by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Thomas Donohue
In a global economy, investment follows talent. When we draw top talent to our shores, investment dollars follow because companies want to be near the best workers.
An infusion of capital and economic development will be a tide that lifts all boats, creating jobs and opportunity for all Americans.
But the reverse is also true. If companies can't find talent on U.S. soil, or if it becomes too costly and burdensome, they will move their operations elsewhere. It's in our own best interests to welcome the world's brightest minds and hardest workers into our economy.
Immigrants can help bridge a growing skills gap in science, technology, engineering and math - the so-called STEM fields that are vital to a modern, competitive economy.
More than half of the master's and doctoral students studying the natural sciences and engineering disciplines at U.S. colleges and universities are from foreign countries.
Meanwhile, the number of American students studying STEM disciplines is growing at less than 1 percent per year. By 2018, there will be 230,000 unfilled positions requiring advanced STEM degrees, even if every U.S. STEM grad finds a job.
Many of our fastest-growing industries require advanced skills and higher education beyond a bachelor's degree - 22 percent of new job openings through 2020 will require at least a master's degree.
Among all 25- to 34-year-olds living in the United States, 10.6 percent of those with masters, professional or doctoral degrees are foreign born, compared with 8.5 percent of native-born young people.
Immigration can also address labor shortages in lesser-skilled fields where there are insufficient numbers of either qualified or willing U.S. workers to fill positions.
Many studies have concluded that the greatest percentage of job growth in the United States through 2020 is expected in low- and moderate-skilled jobs that cannot be automated or outsourced. Services like home health and nursing home care, landscaping and hospitality cannot be provided without capable staff ready to do the work.
Finally, many immigrants are entrepreneurial and view America as the best place to put their dreams to work. They want to create jobs and opportunities for others.
Some 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the United States were started by immigrant entrepreneurs or their children. Combined, those enterprises pump $4.2 trillion in annual revenue into our economy. Immigrants are behind tech and business giants like Google, Yahoo, Big Lots and BJ's Wholesale Club.
To fully leverage the education, effort and entrepreneurship of those who have or want to come from around the world to study, work or innovate in America, we must reform our immigration policies.
Under our broken system, those essential contributions to our workforce and our economy are at risk. We're sending foreign-born students educated in the United States back to their home countries, or to competitors, to compete against us. We're sending companies the message that their investments may be better off somewhere else, where workers are available to fill their jobs and serve their customers.
We need reforms to our high- and lesser-skilled visa policies so that talent at all ends of the spectrum can live and work in the United States. These reforms must come along with other fixes to our immigration system, including improved employment verification, greater border security and a pathway out of the shadows for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country. It's time for Congress to set aside politics and modernize our immigration system.
Through common-sense immigration reform, we have a tremendous opportunity to help close the skills gap in our workforce, address labor shortages, strengthen our economy and create jobs for everyone living in America. But if we don't act on this national priority soon, we'll fall behind in the global competition for talent, putting our economy and American jobs at risk.
Voters Across the Political Spectrum Support Immigration Reform - February 12, 2014
There is broad support for a variety of proposed immigration reform measures being considered by Congress, according to a bipartisan nationwide survey of likely general election voters. Americans overwhelmingly acknowledge the need to reform the country’s current immigration system, and reach consensus behind a wide range of proposals including enforcement measures, new pathways to legal status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and further opportunities for workers in key industries to legally immigrate to the United States. Key findings are as follows:- Americans support every major immigration reform proposal on the table. Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of a variety of proposed reform measures, including implementing a new entry and exit visa tracking system (86% support/11% oppose), requiring employers to electronically verify the legal status of job-seekers (82%/16%), and giving the Department of Homeland Security more resources to secure the border (78%/21%). Each of these three proposals receives the support of at least three-quarters of voters from both parties. Clear majorities also support proposals such as a merit-based visa system for future legal immigrants (78% support/18% oppose), a start-up visa program for foreign entrepreneurs (73%/22%), allowing both more legal immigrants with advanced skills in science or technology (70%/28%) and allowing more lower-skilled legal immigrants as guest workers in industries with labor shortages (64%/33%).
- Voters agree that undocumented immigrants should have the opportunity to come out of the shadows and remain in the country legally – whether it’s described as pathway to “citizenship” or to “legal status.” Six in ten Americans support a “pathway to citizenship” for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants presently in the country (63% support/33% oppose). Support is similar for a “pathway to legal status” for undocumented immigrants (58%/37%). Regardless of how it is described, majorities across partisan lines – including Republicans (51% support “citizenship” and 56% support “legal status) – support these proposals. Meanwhile, voters are near-unanimous (88% support/11% oppose) in their support to creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came here as children as long as they meet certain criteria. This measure earns the support of 90% of Democrats, 90% of Independents and 81% of Republicans.
- Voters roundly reject the immigration status quo. Americans overwhelmingly call for new reforms (79% adopt new reforms/15% leave the system as is) over leaving the current broken immigration system as is.
There is clear political opportunity for members of Congress who back immigration reform. Americans are far more inclined to vote for incumbents who support immigration reform (39% more likely/9% less likely). This is true among Republican voters (41% more likely/11% less likely), Democrats (43% more/7% less), and Independents (34% more/11% less) alike.
- Americans will feel disappointment if Congress does not take this opportunity to reform the nation’s immigration laws. Roughly three in four voters (74% disappointed/25% not disappointed) will be disappointed if Congress does not act on any proposals currently being considered and fails to pass any new laws for the country’s immigration system.
Chamber CEO backs GOP immigration ‘standards’ - February 5, 2014
John Brackney, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber, is part of an activist group that is collectively touting the “standards for immigration reform” unveiled last week by U.S. House Republicans.
Brackney, a Republican, was one of several supporters whose endorsement of the GOP’s one-page memo was touted Jan. 31 by Bibles, Badges and Business, a coalition of business, law enforcement and religious leaders who have consistently pushed for comprehensive immigration reform.
The South Metro Denver Chamber’s board of directors had already formally endorsed a reform bill in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and according to Brackney the momentum for such reform is more than obvious.
“The tipping point has way passed. Everyone is frustrated by the current immigration system,” the chamber CEO said. “Overwhelmingly, in our business community we hear that this has to get solved.”
George, Hastert push for immigration reform - February 5, 2014
Chicago's archbishop and a former senior congressman joined the chorus of religious, political and labor leaders urging federal lawmakers to overhaul the country's immigration system this year.
Cardinal Francis George and Dennis Hastert, the former Illinois congressman and conservative House speaker, both called on Congress to revise U.S. immigration laws during an appearance at DePaul University on Tuesday.
"We need to revise them so that families can remain together and will be able to work, free of being torn apart," George said during remarks delivered as part of a panel organized by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition.
Arkansas Business, Farm & Faith Leaders Call For Immigration Reform - February 3, 2014
Leaders from Arkansas’s business, agriculture and faith communities are responding to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s proposal for an incremental approach to immigration reform with renewed calls to pass some meaningful legislation. Representatives from the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Farm Bureau spoke in a conference call with reporters
In a conference call with reporters, representatives from the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce spoke of the need for better managed employee verification systems and new work visa rules. They say that would allow both highly-skilled and seasonal laborers to better fulfill the demand for workers in various industries.
Bloomberg: Immigration reform key to GOP future - January 24, 2014
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said Friday that a Republican Party that ignores the nation's Hispanics and balks at immigration overhaul does so at its political peril as Republicans pressured the House GOP to act this year.
"If you are against the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country, you and your party don't have a future," Bloomberg said flatly at a forum on immigration with Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who served in President George W. Bush's administration.
National Republicans insist that the party must pass reforms and address the issue of the 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally to be competitive in presidential elections. In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who suggested that immigrants "self-deport," won just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote.
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We need immigration reform now - January 22, 2014
Last year, every sector of Illinois' economy — including technology, hospitality, manufacturing, agriculture, education, health care, engineering, energy, finance and real estate — spoke in one voice through the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition to call on Congress to pass common-sense immigration reform that empowers Illinois' economic competitiveness.
The U.S. Senate passed an immigration bill with the support of our own Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk. It provides more money for border security, allows immigrants already here to work, expands visa programs and provides an arduous 13-year path to citizenship. Hardly a free ride.
Congress Should Keep This Resolution - January 13, 2014
The first weeks of the new year have come with welcome news that the U.S. Congress may be ready to tackle immigration reform, a resolution that should be kept in 2014.
Before the holiday season it looked as if legislative gridlock might continue indefinitely, but Congress recently seems to have turned a corner. First, legislators passed a budget resolution that should avert another government shutdown, and now, the New York Times and other outlets are reporting that House leadership seems to be ready to tackle one of the most pressing problems on the domestic agenda.
Chamber breakfast focuses on future of economy - January 10, 2014
Local business owners Thursday learned about key upcoming legislative issues from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce official.
Immigration reform and trade deals will be important to the economy’s future, said Ben Taylor, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce’s Great Lakes Regional Office. Taylor spoke to about 30 business owners and local chamber members at the Prairie Landing Golf Club in West Chicago.
Taylor said trade is vital for the U.S. on a global stage because it has only 5 percent of the world’s 6.5 billion population. He also spoke about the 20-year anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the competitions businesses face from China.
The U.S. continues to be hurt by a skilled worker shortage and a lack of immigration reform, he said. Critics have long called immigration a broken system, with ongoing issues at U.S. borders, residency verification and earned legal status. There is no formal program for lesser-skilled immigrants to come to the U.S. legally, Taylor said.
Taylor said there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and some of them keep finding jobs here because some citizens don’t want to work in open fields and other environments.
“These are not easy, glamorous jobs … they are well-paying, but it’s not jobs Americans want to do,” Taylor said.
The reluctance of citizens to take low-skill jobs is something that concerns Judy DeVoe, president of Spare Wheels Transportation in West Chicago. DeVoe also is worried about the climate for local businesses when there are many large companies in the area that can provide services at a lower cost.
“It really hurts small businesses trying to compete,” DeVoe said. “The quality doesn’t seem to matter anymore.”
Taylor urged business owners to be vocal and tell their elected officials what changes are needed for the economy.
“You need to be gathering the stories from [chamber] membership,” Taylor said. “The next step is tackling legislation.”
Chamber to 'pull out all the stops' to pass immigration reform in 2014 - January 8, 2014
The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce vowed Wednesday that 2014 will be the year his organization pulls "out all of the stops" to pass immigration reform, pledging that the Chamber will turn the 2014 midterm elections "into a motivation for change."
"We're determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted," Donohue said at his 2014 State of American Business address. "The Chamber will pull out all the stops – through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics and partnerships with unions, faith organization, law enforcement and other – to get it done."
Chamber CEO on immigration: ‘We need a path to legality right away’ - January 8, 2014
American business needs immigration reform - January 7, 2014
by Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte, LLP
One thing the overwhelming majority of Americans agree on, regardless of political party, is the need for immigration reform. Not only is it one of the keys necessary to create a healthier national economy and critical to America’s security, growth, and prosperity, it is also an integral component for the success of American business.
The current employment-based immigration system is broken to the point of disarray — but not to a point of disrepair. The facts speak for themselves:
More Immigration Means More Jobs for Americans - December 29, 2013
Congress may be on recess, but top Republicans are signaling that 2014 could be crucial for immigration reform. On Dec. 16, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said in a radio interview that the U.S. immigration system is "broken" and "indefensible" and that he will support reform as long as it "maintains Republican, conservative principles." Speaker of the House John Boehner seems to agree: The Ohio Republican recently hired a longtime immigration advocate as an adviser, after stating in November that reform is "absolutely not" dead.
We hope so. Of all the reasons to support immigration reform, none is more important than the critical role it would play in helping end America's jobs crisis. Despite the encouraging news that 203,000 jobs were created in November and the unemployment rate fell to 7%, 11 million Americans remain unemployed while another 7.6 million are working part time involuntarily. November was the 43rd month in a row in which more unemployed Americans left the workforce discouraged than found jobs.
Tom Donohue, President & CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Immigration Reform - November 14, 2014
Minnesota's economy needs the boost immigration provides - November 8, 2013
by Star Tribune Editorial Board
Rather than being seen as a “problem,’’ Minnesota’s growing immigrant population should be viewed as an important part of the state’s future prosperity.
That’s the smart conclusion of a state business coalition’s report on the economic contributions of Minnesota’s new Americans. Last week, the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition and the state Chamber of Commerce released a study that documents why any state investments in immigrants bring multiple returns. It wisely calls immigrants important “capital’’ because they provide the state with labor, new businesses, culture, consumers and connections to global markets.
The findings underscore the need to approve comprehensive federal immigration reform. That U.S. Senate passed a bill in June that would do just that. It addresses paths to permanent residency and citizenship, border security and the visa system. Now the House must take action as well, preferably by the end of the year, before midterm election politics interfere.
Main Street Goes to Washington
'Here we were trying to grow jobs in the U.S. and we hit a roadblock'
Nov 5, 2013
What his company does: Manufactures radiation detection equipment; employs 550 people, most of them in Sweetwater
What he's doing on Capitol Hill:Visiting congressional offices to talk about the need for immigration reform. On Tuesday, he visited the offices of two Republican members of the House and two GOP senators.
Who organized this lobbying effort:The U.S. Chamber of Commerce; this fly-in of about 50 representatives from small and medium-sized companies was a followup to a larger immigration reform fly-in of business executives a week earlier
Why immigration reform matters to Truitt: The current immigration system is broken when it comes to bringing talent from abroad to Ludlum Measurements.
Exhibit A: It took eight months and $8,000 to get a visa for one person from a business Ludlum Measurements acquired in Great Britain to come to Sweetwater and train people so that Ludlum could add 20 jobs in Texas. "Here we were trying to grow jobs in the U.S. and we hit a roadblock," Truitt said.
Exhibit B: Ludlum Measurements tried to hire some scientists from a former Soviet bloc country and ran into so much difficulty that the scientists gave up and started their own company, which is now a Ludlum competitor.
Exhibit C: The company is trying to get a green card for an electrical engineer/MBA from Mexico who has been working at Ludlum on an H-1B visa. But his application is stuck in limbo because federal officials used what somebody with his education and experience makes in Houston to determine what a fair wage should be -- and came up with a salary that is higher than what maybe three people make in Sweetwater, Truitt said. The employee, who is married and has two children who were born in the U.S., really wants to stay with the company, Truitt said.
Impact of his lobbying: Face-to-face meetings with business owners and executives are important, because members of Congress can be persuaded to act "if they hear it from enough, different people," Truitt said. There's a broad consensus in the business community that immigration reform needs to happen because there's "a lot of talent outside the U.S."
Feedback from congressional offices: "They're looking at it. They know it has to be done."
What he hopes will happen: "They need to push the House leadership to at least get it into regular process. Let's get it on the floor for debate."
What he expects: "I wouldn't say I'm optimistic -- I'm hopeful." He knows the prospects for immigration reforms that make it easier to hire highly skilled workers depend on progress on other, more controversial issues, such as low-skilled worker programs and what to do about America's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Americans for Reform - November 4, 2013
|High Skilled Reform|
|Lesser Skilled Reform|