As the nation moves forward under new leadership, one of the greatest challenges we continue to face is finding a way to manage and improve the broken immigration system.
From frustrations about security at the southern border to a legal immigration system that is unresponsive to employer needs, both Democrats and Republicans agree the immigration system is not functional. The system as it stands today frustrates those who come in contact with a sprawling bureaucracy and cumbersome process that appears accountable to no one.
Reform of the immigration system is not a simple exercise. Each change, even small changes in the regulatory sphere, can affect thousands of manufacturing employees and cost millions of dollars. Careful consideration must be made to address the apprehensions of many Americans, such as border security.
We need to create a workable system for lesser skilled immigrants that allows workers to be in the United States when there is demand and lets us know who is here.
Our system for higher skilled immigrants deserves reform, too. The current system is too limited and inflexible and actually sends innovation and jobs overseas. We are driving out foreign-born talent, often educated in the United States, who then compete against us instead of working with us. They are moving abroad to work, manufacture and innovate, when their talents could be put to use here to grow our economy and create new jobs.
Congress and the next administration have an obligation to holistically tackle this public policy challenge. Manufacturers believe that immigration reform must be revisited in 2017.
Immigrants, at all skill levels, come to this country because they want to work. We are a country built by immigrants and a nation where immigrants thrive more than anywhere in the world. We need not only to ensure that we are keeping threats to the Unites States out, but also bringing skills, talents and ambition that will help this country grow. As manufacturers have laid our in our “Competing to Win” immigration blueprint, we must do the following:
- Ensure manufactures’ reliable access to talent at all skill levels.
- Offer career opportunities to keep talent onshore.
- Address the undocumented worker population in a practical, moral and respectful way.
- Advance a rigorous and fair employment verification system.
- Improve safety and security at the border in a workable way that allows for the free trade of goods.
Comprehensive reform can strengthen our economy and country. We should not turn our back on the opportunity for stability and security.
This blog is part of the NAM’s “12 Days of Transition” series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.