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Reason for Reform campaign highlights economic benefits of immigration
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI) joined a coalition of business and municipal leaders to push for immigration reform in 2017, citing a new report showcasing the positive economic impact immigrant populations have on the country.
The Partnership for a New American Economy—founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch—released 51 economic research reports, one for every state plus Washington, D.C.
The coalition launched the Reason for Reform campaign to showcase how immigration impacts local communities across America and the urgency of modernizing our immigration system.
The reports break out demographics, tax contributions, visa demand and immigrants' role in the workforce, compiled from publicly available data, primarily from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
Notable statistics from the state reports include that:
Making the Business Case for Immigration Reform
In addition to SHRM and CFGI, the research was co-sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Google, Intel, Microsoft, the Western Growers Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others.
"Immigration will be a top issue for the next president," said John Feinblatt, chairman of the Partnership for a New American Economy. "The data … make an unequivocal case—not only do Americans want reform, our economy needs it."
CFGI Executive Director Lynn Shotwell said the reports "are evidence that decades of inaction on immigration reform have held back America's economic growth." She urged the next presidential administration and Congress "to work with employers on bipartisan solutions to fill existing skills gaps and build a 21st century workforce that draws on both domestic and foreign talent."
Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor, immigration, and employee benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, cited the importance of data in talking about immigration, especially as "heated debate surrounding immigration issues is continually characterized by distortions of the truth."
Reform advocates have cause for optimism as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has vowed to take on immigration reform within her first 100 days in office. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has promised to lead on immigration reform if Senate Democrats win in November and he becomes the next majority leader. And House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has favored immigration reform in the past.
Implications for STEM Employers
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are projected to play a key role in U.S. economic growth over the next decade, adding almost 800,000 new jobs and growing 37 percent faster than the U.S. economy as a whole.
This is directly related to the high-skilled immigration issue: For example, immigrant workers in New York in 2014 made up 26.6 percent of the state's STEM workforce, despite making up 22.6 percent of the state's population.
The current immigration system, however, makes it difficult for STEM employers to access and retain the high-skilled workers they need to fill critical positions, said Rebecca Peters, director of government affairs at CFGI. "What's often lost in the debate with this election is the need to reform our legal employment-based immigration system to keep America's economy growing, something these reports shine a spotlight on by looking at the contributions of entrepreneurs,
Fortune 500s and those immigrants with STEM degrees."
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