February - 2014 - issue > Attorney Viewpoint

Supporting Immigration Reform in Collaboration of Business Forward

Gerardo Menchaca
Monday, February 10, 2014
Gerardo Menchaca
How Congress acts on this issue will determine whether we continue with a broken system that kills jobs, hurts businesses' bottom lines, forgoes billions of dollars of tax revenue, and shuts out job creators--or we devise a new way of doing things that gives American businesses and workers a crucial boost in a challenging economy and increasingly competitive marketplace.

Comprehensive immigration reform is not a partisan issue. That is why groups as diverse as the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the liberal AFL-CIO support it. A vote for immigration reform is a vote to reduce our federal budget deficit, create jobs, grow our economy, and improve worker productivity.
Fiscal hawks support immigration reform because it saves money. According to the non-partisan U.S. Congressional Budget Office, the immigration bill passed by the Senate will reduce deficits by nearly $1 trillion over the next two decades and boost GDP by more than five percent.

To compete in a competitive global marketplace, there is a need to raise the H1B visa cap and an immigration system that attracts the best and the brightest job creators from around the world. Immigrants are major drivers of economic growth and job creation in the U.S. In 2011, they accounted for only 12.9 percent of the population but started 28 percent of all new U.S. businesses. Three out of four information technology and pharmaceutical drugs patents are invented by immigrants. Yet the United States reserves fewer permanent employment-based visas as a percent of its workforce than almost any other major economy. Most employment-based visas are temporary and opportunities to convert them to permanent residency are scarce.
We also need to reform our immigration system to attract high-skilled immigrants to fill crucial skills gaps. Companies like Microsoft, IBM, GM, Boeing, and Caterpillar have reported significant shortages of qualified native workers with degrees in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics). That is because more half of the world's engineering degrees are awarded in Asia while just four percent are earned in the U.S.

Current law discourages workforce development, which retards worker productivity. High turnover rates of undocumented workers increase hiring costs and diminish employers' incentives to invest in training workers. In the absence of clear and mandatory verification rules, businesses that rely on undocumented workers are exposed to significant uncertainty.

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