U.S. Chamber Pushes For Immigration Reform

Feb 20, 2013

As immigration policy takes center stage on Capitol Hill this year, the U.S. Chamber is championing immigration reforms that adopt stronger enforcement, market-based improvements to temporary worker programs, and a commonsense solution to the problem of the undocumented.

“As we have this important debate, let’s remember who we are and where our families would be today if earlier generations of Americans had decided to slam the door shut,” says Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue. “We are locked in a global competition for the world’s best talent. This is the competition that will separate the economic leaders from the laggards in the 21st century.”

The Chamber is teaming up with labor unions, faith organizations, ethnic groups, and law enforcement to build consensus for comprehensive reform. “We will find a balance in these issues,” says Donohue.

A priority is securing the nation’s borders and ensuring safe border communities, according to Donohue. Fortunately, over the last decade many needed improvements have been implemented at the borders and in systems to protect the United States from the entry of inadmissible foreign nationals.

In addition, the Chamber is calling for fundamental changes to the structure of the nation’s immigration laws to welcome necessary labor and talent into the economy through thoughtfully designed employment-based visa programs.

This includes provisional visas for less-skilled workers. It also includes expanding the caps for high-skilled visas and expanding the number of green cards for foreign nationals who graduate from U.S. colleges and universities with advanced degrees.

The Chamber recognizes that an enhanced employment verification system with obligations by employers must be part of any immigration reform package. There should be strong penalties for an employer’s failure to complete the employment verification process, but there needs to be one single national policy and uniformed enforcement with safe harbors for good faith employers.

Finally, the Chamber suggests that Congress provide a path to permanent legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the United States today—provided that they meet strict conditions, including criminal background checks, payment of a fine and taxes, and confirmation of progress toward English proficiency. Undocumented immigrants need a way to “come out of the shadows,” says Donohue.

Click here to watch a video of Donohue speaking about immigration reform.

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