With only four working days since the H-1B application process opened on April 1, the number of applications for H-1B visas has already far exceeded the annual visas limitations. On Tuesday April 7, USCIS stated they are no longer accepting applications and “Due to the high number of petitions, USCIS is not yet able to announce the date on which it will conduct the random selection process.” Which means they received so many that they are still counting them. The limit is – again – exceeded before one week had passed. Read More
The House won’t vote on comprehensive immigration reform this year—that’s the recent word from Speaker Boehner. Manufacturers are disappointed. With each day that passes, Congress misses an opportunity to take an important step forward for our economy and country.
Immigration reform is a priority for manufacturers. With some 80 percent of employers reporting a shortage of skilled workers, reform can provide a bridge so employers can begin to close the skills gap as we simultaneously undertake efforts to improve education and training efforts. And, in addition to the practical considerations, immigration reform is simply the right thing to do.
Of course, while manufacturers are frustrated by the inaction on reform, we’re not giving up. It’s not a matter of if immigration reform will happen; it’s a matter of when. Our country is better than our current, broken immigration system. That’s why manufacturers are committed to advancing immigration reform done right—a comprehensive solution that includes a pathway to citizenship and ensure that those who seek it aren’t denied the American Dream.
Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, appeared the Economic Club of Washington, DC, on June 17 to talk about the key ingredients for economic growth in the United States.
In a wide-ranging policy discussion, the head of the telecommunications giant honed in issues like immigration reform and tax reform as opportunities to drive and attract investment. Stephenson also highlighted the need for strong trade policies and the importance of free trade agreements. Currently, the United States’ ability to negotiate new agreements and complete pending ones is hindered by the lack of Trade Promotion Authority, which helps streamline the negotiation process.
Stephenson’s remarks send a powerful message from the business community about the necessity of engaging with Washington. Policymakers, whether on Capitol Hill or in the executive branch, need to hear from America’s job creators—because like it or not, what happens in Washington matters to businesses. We need to be at the table for these important discussions.
Approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline’s Presidential Permit Application
- It’s been nearly five years since the Presidential Permit application was filed to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline. In addition to the 20,000 construction jobs that the pipeline would create, 118,000 jobs would be created in the supply chain of the pipeline. These are manufacturing jobs to make the steel, valves, compressor stations and heavy equipment necessary to make the pipeline become a reality. Keystone XL needs to be approved for the good of our country’s competitiveness, our nation’s energy consumers, our national interests and especially the 138,000 Americans who desperately need the jobs that this project would create.
Continued Focus on Immigration Reform
- Immigration reform will lift America up – it is intrinsic to who we are as a nation. It’s far too important to allow demagoguery to derail comprehensive reform, and all parties involved should avoid the traditional politicking that often accompanies this issue. The NAM is committed to seeing it through, and we will, because it is the right thing to do.
Re-examination of EPA Regulations that Hurt Manufacturers and Job Creation
- Over the past several years, the EPA has proposed and implemented an array of regulations that are hurtful to the economy, including the Boiler MACT, Utility MACT and PM 2.5 NAAQS. Now, the EPA is considering another proposal that would further limit the construction of new fossil-fuel power plants, potentially taking stable and affordable sources of energy off the table and putting the power grid at further risk. The cumulative impact of these regulations is bad news for the manufacturing economy and will result in less reliable electricity at a higher price. Manufacturers and the 12 million people making things in America want a strategy that includes all available domestic sources of energy. Piling on with more costly regulations is not the answer.
Stronger Push for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
- The NAM commends President Obama for advocating for TPA in a recent Presidential address, and supports all efforts to ensure he receives this crucial authority. A robust international trade and investment negotiating agenda is vital to the success of manufacturing in the United States. To create jobs and drive growth, manufacturers must be able to reach the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders. When overseas markets are open, businesses and workers win. Durable negotiating authority that includes strong provisions on consultation and review by Congress is a fundamental requirement of an effective U.S. negotiating structure to open foreign markets.
New Approach To Comprehensive Tax Reform
- NAM would like to see the Administration offer support to Congress’ efforts to pass revenue neutral tax reform for corporations and individuals that leaves no one behind. Tax reform is essential to long term economic growth in this nation – and the White House should offer strong support to reform that refuses to pick winners and losers but instead reduces the tax burden on all Americans.
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?”
Today NAM’s Vice President of Human Resources Policy took part in a panel discussion sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. The room was filled with interested, energetic people eager to learn more about the recent activity surrounding comprehensive reform thus far and ways to further the efforts.
Mr. Trauger laid out the NAM’s platform very clearly – the current immigration system is broken and is a roadblock for manufacturers who need access to a skilled and available workforce. American manufacturers are competing globally and need access to the best, brightest and hardest working people they can find. A few years ago, a study by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group of business and civic leaders, found that over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were either started by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Manufacturers are well represented in this group. American manufacturing enterprises founded by immigrants span all sectors, from technology, to steel, to chemicals, to medical devices and many others.
Immigration reform must be comprehensive and not piecemeal. Mr. Trauger correctly noted that immigration policy is intertwined and if one section remains broken, the system will not work well. A bipartisan, thoughtful solution must be found to deal with the millions of undocumented workers already in the U.S. His thoughts were echoed by the other panelists.
The NAM is committed to working with LULAC, Members of Congress, and our President to enact comprehensive immigration reform that includes a clear and reasonable pathway to legal status or citizenship. Whether it is politically popular or not, many of the undocumented or falsely documented were born here and many others have lived here for years. For any immigration reform measure to be successful, it needs to address this issue in a forthright manner.
As the debate over comprehensive immigration reform heats up, we can expect this to become a divisive issue. But what won’t change is the need for reform and as Mr. Trauger confirmed to the LULAC panel and the audience, comprehensive reform is a top priority for the NAM and we will do all we can to see it become a reality.
Immigration reform has been expected to be a hot topic this year and already a group of bipartisan senators has unveiled plans to introduce a bill that would address the shortage of high-skilled workers in the United States. The bill, set to be introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL.), Chris Coons (D-DE.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), is the first major immigration reform bill of the 113th Congress and it seems to be a strong first step toward dealing with the skills gap in the United States.
82 percent of manufacturers have reported medium to serious difficulty in finding the skilled workers they need. The NAM has partnered with the inSPIRE STEM USA Coalition to implement H1B visa reform while improving STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the United States. That way we can make sure that manufacturers have access to the educated and skilled workers they need today while ensuring that we will have plenty of homegrown talent working towards careers in those fields.