Advocacy in Action

Members of the Council for Global Immigration and San Diego SHRM Advocate on Federal and State Workplace Issues

Jun 12, 2015
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In the past few weeks, members of San Diego SHRM (SDSHRM) and SHRM’s affiliate, the Council for Global Immigration, have conducted advocacy outreach to members of the 114th Congress and the California legislature, sharing their views on issues relating to immigration reform and paid sick leave.

The Council for Global Immigration – On June 8, the Council hosted its annual Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill as part of its 2015 Symposium for HR professionals and in-house immigration professionals. During their meetings, advocates discussed with congressional staffs that the current immigration system does not align with today’s business realities and that employers and U.S. global competitiveness pay the price without legislative action. They argued that, done right, immigration reform will create jobs, close the skills gap, grow the economy and drive innovation.

With the United States facing key skills gaps for high-skilled jobs, especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and with the economy picking up, employers need a system that allows them to recruit, hire, transfer and retain foreign-born talent when and where they need it and that ensures they are hiring a legal workforce.

In particular, Council and SHRM members advocated in support of:

  • Legislation to ensure that employers have the ability to recruit, hire, transfer and retain innovative talent to compete. In the Senate, advocates urged support of the Immigration Innovation Act (S. 153) as it works to clear green card backlogs, provides a market-based H-1B cap, retains student talent, and provides investments in U.S. STEM education and training, while not rendering visa programs unworkable. In the House, advocates urged for the reintroduction of the SKILLS Visa Act, asking that it provide more green cards to clear backlogs and for the inclusion of a Trusted Employer provision, which would help employers obtain visas in a more timely, predictable and efficient manner.
  • Legislation that would combat against identity theft. Specifically, advocates encouraged support of the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 1147) and urged that any final bill give employers the tools to hire a legal workforce. As currently drafted, the bill would allow all employers to participate in identity authentication pilots; however, it does not provide a tool to give employers certainty that they are hiring a legal workforce. Advocates also discussed that an employment verification system must pre-empt state laws (currently, there are 22 states that require E-Verify or a specified alternative for some or all employers) and must provide a reliable, easily accessible, integrated federal electronic verification system that uses state-of-the-art technology to accurately authenticate a new hire’s identity while combatting identity theft.

San Diego SHRM – As part of their continued advocacy efforts on both the state and federal levels, chapter members met with state Assembly Member Brian Maienschein (R-Santee), second from left) on May 29. In attendance were Michael Kalt, CalSHRM Government Affairs Director; Trisha Zulic, SHRM A-Team Captain; and Jenna Leyton-Jones, SDSHRM VP of Legislation. During the meeting, they provided Maienschein with an overview of SHRM, CalSHRM and SDSHRM as well as updated him on their recent collaborative efforts in support of AB 1383 (veterans’ preference) and in opposition to SB 406 (CFRA expansion). (See related story, above.)

They also discussed the recently enacted California paid sick leave law and advised Maienschein that Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) was attempting to move a bill (AB 304) through the legislature to amend the paid sick leave law prior to its July 1, 2015, effective date. In the discussions, SDSHRM members suggested that rather than attempt to enact a new law on June 30 for employers to follow on July 1, a more desirable approach would be to delay the effective date of the paid sick leave law to January 1, 2016. As we go to print, AB 304 is still pending before the California Assembly.

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