IMMIGRANTS AND THE ECONOMY
What business needs from immigration reform


In January and March 2013, ImmigrationWorks held briefings for congressional staffers on how to fix the immigration system so it works for employers and for the U.S. economy. How many foreign workers, skilled and unskilled, does America need? How do we determine those needs? How should worker visa programs be structured? And what about worksite enforcement? What can be done to ensure that E-Verify works for employers who want to abide by the law? Speakers included a representative from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, three of the nation's top immigration attorneys and other business representatives. Over 80 congressional staffers, Republicans and Democrats, attended.

 

MODERATOR Tamar Jacoby President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA.

"We need visas for workers in agriculture and high-tech. But if we don't also fix the part of the system that is about year-round low-skilled workers, in ten years, we'll be facing the same issue with millions of unauthorized immigrants."

   

Randel Johnson Senior vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"The U.S Chamber of Commerce supports legalization as part of an immigration reform package – the Chamber's members want to hire legal workers and have a stable workforce."

 

Lynden Melmed Partner at Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP.

"The number of visas the U.S. allocates annually for high-skilled workers through the H-1B worker visa program was set in 1990 and those numbers for the most part haven't changed. In the interim, U.S. GDP has tripled."

 

 
Leon Sequeira Senior counsel at Seyfarth Shaw LLP and counsel to USA Farmers.

"We've been bringing in foreign labor to pick crops for the better part of a century. And the need for foreign agricultural workers has only grown over time. Today, almost all farm workers are immigrants."

 

Jenna Hamilton Partner at Capitol Legislative Strategies.

"Creating a legal system for workers to come in when they're needed that reflects the market realities of the U.S. economy is critical in stemming the flow of illegal immigration."

 

 
Bo Cooper Partner at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP.

"Of all the immigrants granted permanent residence status each year in the U.S., only 7 percent are chosen based on the skills they will bring to the economy. We need to have more green cards available for the high- and low-skilled workers our economy needs to be competitive."