EWIC applauds the Biden Administration on sending an Immigration bill (America’s Citizenship Act of 2021) to Congress. We were pleased to see the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, and plans for dealing with the undocumented included in this bill. For more than two decades we have sought immigration reform for Essential Workers who are vital to sustaining and expanding U.S. economic growth.
However, members of Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) believe strongly that the proposal does not go far enough to resolve the larger failure of the current legal system in the U.S. to meet the long-term workforce needs of employers. We would greatly appreciate the opportunity to work on a bipartisan basis to address this vital issue while also addressing the critical issues in the proposed legislation.
We believe that one of the fundamental problems with the immigration policy in the U.S., is that the current visa system does not allow a major portion of the U.S. economy to access year-round, legal labor to supplement their U.S. workforce when the economy is growing. We need a serious effort on the part of Congress and the Administration to create a workable program for employers in the service, construction, health care, food processing and other essential worker sectors. Many of our industries, even in the midst of a pandemic, are faced with real and growing workforce shortage issues in economic sectors that cannot simply offshore their work to foreign nations. We are eager to work with the Administration and Congress on visa reforms that provide job creators with stable, legal methods to address our workforce needs.
EWIC’s key issues are as follows:
Market-Driven Access to Foreign-Born Labor
The serious immigration problems facing this country cannot be fixed without reforming the legal non-immigrant visa system. Business must have access to a supplemental legal workforce when it cannot find qualified U.S. workers to do essential jobs in the economy. Demographic trends make future workforce needs inescapable, creating a clear need for a non-politicized, legal immigration system that responds to the legitimate and diverse economic needs of our various workforce sectors. Any plan to address future immigration should be flexible enough to adapt to changing workforce conditions, including new, emerging industries. And it efficiently responds to the workforce needs of the nation’s myriad industry sectors in a timely and accurate manner.
Employment Based Enforcement
For many years, EWIC has supported the establishment of a fair and effective enforcement system. Particularly with respect to employment eligibility verification systems, we urge you to work with business to create a workable system that is fast, accurate and reliable under practical real-world working conditions.
Foreign-Born Worker Categories including DACA and TPS workers
Our industries believe that workers currently in the legal workforce as participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program should have an opportunity for “earned adjustment” to legal status. These workers have already been cleared into these programs by the federal government, and have greatly contributed to the growth and health of the U.S. economy. We believe that Congress should create a program that would allow these individuals currently working in essential worker occupations to earn adjustment to legal status by committing to continue to work in essential worker jobs for a period of time. This earned adjustment is necessary to stabilize the existing workforce and would reward those who properly came forward to submit to background checks and other requirements in order to participate in both TPS and DACA. This program should have safeguards to protect employers from liability during the conversion process. Employers may be required to furnish individuals with evidence of employment during the adjustment process. These employers should be protected from employer sanctions violations.
We stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to push forward true reforms to the U.S. legal immigration and visa system that reflect the marketplace realities today and in our collective future.