Tag: immigration

Immigration Reform: Principles Matter

Earlier today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) hosted a dual town hall discussion on why the time for comprehensive immigration reform is now. Cosponsored by Cargill, Microsoft and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the event highlighted just how important the issue is to businesses and local communities across the country. That significance resounded from Cargill’s headquarters in Hopkins, Minnesota to the Washington, DC platform where House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) addressed the crowd.

Right now, the United States is educating foreign-born talent and then returning them to our competitors around the world. Our birthrates are not where they need to be to lock in our competitive advantage. Immigration reform will create jobs and drive economic growth, economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin said in Washington. As Ryan noted, maintaining the status quo on immigration will get us nowhere fast. “When we’ve got baby boomers retiring, when we’ve got 10,000 people retiring every day as they will be for ten years coming, we’re going to need people,” he said. “Immigration helps us get the labor force that we need so that we can have the kind of growth we want.” Manufacturers in particular stand to benefit from having access to the qualified workers they need to keep manufacturing in the United States and thrive in a global marketplace.

For Ryan and other lawmakers, immigration reform is not simply an economically-motivated decision. It is the right thing to do. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons has been making the case for comprehensive immigration reform based on those same principles. It is something that town hall panelist and Brooklyn Park, Minnesota Mayor Jeffrey Lunde understands completely. Brooklyn Park is the most diverse city in the state and an indicator of future U.S. demographics. “It’s not stats to us – it’s people,” Lunde said from Cargill’s headquarters.

The NAM couldn’t agree more, especially when opponents question the ethics of immigration reform. Immigration reform is the ethical thing to do. Cargill Chairman and CEO Gregory Page put it best when took the stage. “What we see in America are 11 million people, the great majority of whom came here to work and to work hard, often in jobs that are difficult for employers like ourselves and others to fill. We see this as a moral question in the other direction,” he said. “How are we going to treat people who have contributed so much for so many years?”

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Immigration Reform Clears First Hurdle

The Senate Judiciary Committee completed work on S. 744 last night, which sets up consideration by the full Senate in June. The vote was 13-5 and demonstrated bi-partisan support for the framework. Prior to passage, the committee adopted an amendment negotiated by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), which would address critical aspects of the H-1B visa provisions of the bill.

The NAM joined the U.S. Chamber in sending a letter of support for Senator Hatch’s amendment to all members of the Judiciary Committee. In June, the Senate will take up a comprehensive immigration package that contains the following: increased access to high-skilled talent; increased legal access to lower-skilled workers; a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented; and an enhanced verification program with protections for employers acting in good faith. The NAM is anticipating vigorous debate on this legislation over the summer in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

 

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Time to Fix our Broken Visa System

April 1 is the start date for the Citizenship and Immigration Services to accept H1B petitions for the new fiscal year. Today is also April Fool’s Day and if a company needs a high-tech worker, but doesn’t apply within the next couple of days, the chances of them getting a visa are the joke.

Petitions are expected to exceed the annual the cap of 65,000 either today or in the next few days. That means that anyone looking to hire a highly-skilled foreign-born candidate who has not applied on April 1 will likely not be able to hire that talented individual this year – and this is not a new phenomenon.

Each year, even during the darkest days of the economic turndown, the cap was reached before the end of the year. As a result, the U.S. is losing highly-educated and highly-skilled talent to other countries. Thousands of students come to the U.S. from around the world to enroll in our colleges and universities, but when they’re done with their programs we send them back home to compete against us due to a lack of visas.  This system needs to be fixed and we are on the verge of making that happen.

In February, Senators Hatch, Klobuchar, Rubio and Coons introduced the Innovation Immigration Act or I-Squared Act. The bill focuses on this problem as well as the long-time back-log of green cards. The NAM sent a letter in support of this legislation and is now submitting a letter along with nearly 60 companies and organizations that see the need for reform and see the I-squared bill as the best way forward.

Today is the annual milestone that often marks the broken system and we are putting forward our support for legislation that will change it. We need to stop playing the fool and start focusing on policies that will strengthen our economy – enacting I-Squared through a common-sense immigration reform package will do just that.

Joe Trauger is vice president of human resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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Supreme Court Rules on Arizona Immigration Law

In 2008, Arizona was the first state to go beyond existing Federal laws and impose additional hiring responsibilities and penalties on employers. Some states have since followed, resulting in a state-by-state patchwork of varied enforcement and hiring mechanisms, making the process increasingly difficult, burdensome and costly for employers doing business in multiple states.

Today, the Supreme Court found that the Arizona law falls within the authority Congress has given the states and they have the right to mandate that employers use E-Verify, the Federal verification program and impose certain penalties.

Employers need a reliable, accurate and efficient employment eligibility verification system that also provides fair enforcement of the laws. This includes a consistent system that provides a coherent hiring process across all states. Manufacturers are concerned that this ruling opens the door to additional state action that will make the hiring process more confusing.

Federal preemption of state laws and a safe harbor for employers is necessary to ease the regulatory burden that will continue to be imposed one state at a time.

Joe Trauger is vice president for human resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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A Commitment to U.S. Education and Workforce Development

Crossposted from Compete America, “Making a Commitment to U.S. Education and Workforce Development“:

As a member of Compete America, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) supports the retention of highly educated, foreign-born talent for the advancement of America’s 21st century workforce. Equally important, the Manufacturers, along with all Compete America members, are dedicated to encouraging the development of “home grown” talent so the United States can compete in the 21st century economy.

Our country is experiencing a deficit of American students and workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. According to the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2010, about five percent of all bachelor’s degrees are in engineering in the United States, compared to 20 percent in Asia and about one-third in China. If we want to compete in the new global economy, a crucial step will be generating more domestic talent for these in-demand careers. We and the members of Compete America are doing something about that. (continue reading…)

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In the Local and National Competition for Skills

CBS News, August 11, “Skilled Labor Shortage Frustrates Employers“:

(CBS)  Job openings at businesses fell to 2.54 million in June from 2.6 million in May, meaning there is now five unemployed workers on average for every job opening.

There’s a brighter spot in manufacturing, where some companies are looking for workers, CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports.

On a quick tour of her family’s factory, Linda Fillingham proudly shows off employees making the metal parts that go into some of America’s biggest machines.

What’s holding her machine shop back isn’t a shortage of work. Instead, it’s a shortage of workers, whom she’s willing to pay $13 to $18 an hour.

That’s not to conflate the importance of a skilled workforce with the issue of attracting people with advanced engineering, scientific, programming or mathematical training as noted below.

The latter is more akin to this April CBS story, “New Nuke Plants Face Skilled Labor Shortage.”

(CBS News always seems interested in these workforce topics, which we appreciate.)

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March Up the Down Escalator to Health Care ‘Reform’

Sitting here in Washington, one could think the entire nation is obsessively following the health care debate, shouting at the TV for interrupting House whip counts with that stupid March Madness.

But people do have other things on their mind, and you don’t even have to travel to flood-threatened Fårgo to realize that. The corners of 13th and F Street NW are close enough.

The lead headlines in the newspaper boxes indicate differing interests. Yes, health care, but also escalators and Sunday’s pro-immigration march on Washington.

The Spanish-language newspapers have been promoting Sunday’s immigration march on Washington for quite a while, but other D.C.-based media have paid little attention.

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Engler, Schramm: Jump-Starting Job Creation

National Association of Manufacturers’ President John Engler and Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, appear on CNBC’s “Street Signs” to discuss jobs creation, with a focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, productivity and the importance of foreign-born employees, education and visas.

Engler: “We are and should be the best country in the  world to do research and Development. We ought to be the best country in the world to headquarter our company. We ought to make sure that all our policies align , whether those are tax policies or research and funding of the basic research in this country. Lot of exciting things on the horizon – We ought to be out in front.”

Schramm: “When it comes to creating jobs, it is these new high-tech jobs that actually do lots of on-the-jobs training that intensify the skills-set of our native born population, so in my ways it is a win-win situation to expand our citizenship with folks who are terribly talented. They’ll help us, we’ll help them.”

Schramm and the Kauffman Foundation support what they’re calling an “immigrant’s visa,” described in a Wall Street Journal editorial Tuesday, “Start-up Visas Can Jump-Start the Economy,” by investors Paul Kedrosky and Brad Feld:

In the 21st century … opportunities don’t wait for our interminable, employment-based visa programs. As a result rather than saying “Come and create jobs here” we, in effect, tell them to shove off. Come back when you have a few million in sales— at which point they will be rooted elsewhere and creating jobs somewhere else.

That needs to end now. Immigrants who come here to create companies create jobs. We need the jobs.

One good idea to make this process easier is to create a new visa for entrepreneurs, something that is increasingly being called by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and angel investors a “start-up visa.” It might work like this: If immigrant entrepreneurs want to start a company in the U.S. and are able to raise a moderate amount of money (perhaps as little as $125,000) from an accredited U.S.-based venture capital firm or qualified U.S.-based angel investors, we should let them start a company here. It could be a couple of founders with an idea—that’s it. We would give visas to the founders and welcome them in to our country.

One minor error at the start by Erin Burnett: Schramm is attending today’s White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth (Kauffman Foundation news release), but the NAM’s Engler is not. Manufacturing is well represented among the 130 attendees, however.

 

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Business, Enforcing Immigration Law

From today’s New York Times:

President Bush has ordered federal contractors to participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s electronic system for verifying the immigration status of their workers, greatly expanding the reach of the administration’s crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

An executive order, signed by the president on Friday and announced on Monday, requires federal contractors to use the system, known as E-Verify, to check immigration status when they hire new workers or start work under government.
  • Commentary from Mark Krikorian, a supporter of limited immigration and stronger enforcement of current laws.
  • The El Paso Times finds two local contractors who say, no problem. 
  •  South Coast Today (Massachusetts) reports that Eagle Industries, the Missouri-based military equipment manufacturer, will not have to make any changes to comply with the new order.
  • The ACLU is unhappy, claiming enforcement will encourage more identity theft.
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