The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition supports the premise contained in the White House plan that would more appropriately focus the nation’s immigration programs on the economic contributions made by visa holders. Our industries recognize the invaluable contributions made by foreign born workers to our sectors, and our American economy. We appreciate the White House acknowledgement of the logic behind redefining immigration policy to meet the needs of our nation’s economy.
While we support the premise, we remain concerned about Congress’ and the Administration’s continued lack of understanding of the true need for workers across the entire spectrum. This coalition is concerned that the White House Immigration Plan is missing a critical component in its newly released immigration principles – how to handle the severe labor shortage across the skill spectrum.
Our members tell us they have chronic worker shortages and can’t fill critical positions in health care, construction, food processing, hospitality etc. Business expansion opportunities are lost; contracts are not filled or not filled in a timely fashion and in some cases, businesses are forced to downsize or close.
A new immigration system shouldn’t be about just doctors, engineers, scientists and other professionals with advanced degrees. We need to look at our real workforce needs in the short and long term. A “Merit-Based” system sounds fine on its face, but the bottom line is that the types of jobs supported in this proposal does not appear to line up with the type of jobs most employers are having trouble filling today.
Additionally, the Administration’s proposal to arbitrarily assign immigrant visa number caps does not make sense. The market should dictate how many immigrant visa numbers are available in the employment based categories.
We are also concerned that this new plan doesn’t address some of the underlying causes of our current dysfunctional immigration policies. We need to address the individuals that are currently living and working in the U.S. in questionable status. We also need to address temporary worker programs that provide a method of individuals to enter the U.S. legally to work.
We suggest that the Administration look carefully at some of the concepts embodied in the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act and reassess its immigration plan accordingly.