As Congress weighs in this week on the immigration issue, the members of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), representing the broad range of American industries outside of the high-skilled and agriculture sectors, would like to express our strong concern about the silence in legislative proposals on the issue of addressing the workforce needs of a significant portion of the U.S. economy.
Legislative proposals currently being promoted would rightly address the important issue of DACA-eligible individuals. However, the proposals simultaneously make changes to the U.S. immigration system that ultimately result in the elimination of legal visas for entry into the United States at a time when our nation is facing the lowest unemployment rates in decades.
The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition seconds lawmakers’ concerns about illegal immigration and we have long-supported improvements to U.S. border security and workplace enforcement. But we do not believe the answer is curtailing legal entry into the U.S.
For over two decades, Congress has failed to address the alarm sounded by millions of U.S. employers across a significant portion of the economy calling for the creation of a legal guest worker visa system that will allow workers to enter the United States legally when the economy needs them. Proposals being considered this week continue to ignore that alarm, even choosing to ignore the service, construction, and health care sectors’ eligibility when it comes to accessing visas under a “merit-based” points system that by its design shuts out workers in those industries.
Congress cannot continue to ignore the bulk of the U.S. economy’s need for additional workers beyond the high-skill and agriculture industries. At a time of booming economic growth and record low unemployment rates nationwide, we’re puzzled to see Congress consider cutting legal immigration and shrinking the labor force. Proposals currently under consideration set a dangerous precedent, cutting legal immigration and blocking large sectors of the economy from accessing legal workers. No one expects Congress to fix the broken U.S. immigration system with one piece of legislation, but a precedent of this kind should be a concern for every American who cares about fixing this system.
The legislation being considered is the latest failure of a Congress politicizing the immigration issue while ignoring the best economic interests of the United States.