NJ Business Immigration Coalition Comments on Proposed Legislation
On Feb 2, 2021
Representing major business organizations in the state of New Jersey, the New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition commends the new Biden administration for its intention to work together with members of Congress to achieve effective and bipartisan immigration policy reform.
The Coalition views lawful immigration as a powerful tool for economic recovery and growth, and shares its position on various issues, for the benefit of the New Jersey Congressional delegation, the administration, other members of Congress, and the public at large.
Although the pandemic has shut down borders and slowed global migration, the economic, political, and environmental forces that propelled migration prior to the pandemic will likely regain their power. At the same time, worker shortages in key industries and below-replacement birth rates in developed countries like the U.S. will likely create strong demand for immigrant labor. Comprising almost one-third of all essential workers in New Jersey, immigrants have already proven their worth in vital sectors of the economy, such as health care, agriculture, and food services. Through their entrepreneurial and scientific skill, they have also played a major role as innovators and job creators.
Although the Biden proposal, known as the Citizenship Act of 2021, will likely undergo revisions during the legislative process, the Coalition has identified key provisions of the Act that it believes should enjoy bipartisan support and should be enacted:
The Coalition sees immigration as a great asset to the economy, but one that must be managed carefully to avoid an oversupply or undersupply of workers. For this reason, it applauds the intention of the Biden administration to give the Department of Homeland Security the “authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions.” In order to avoid abuse of this authority, the Coalition urges the creation of an independent commission of economists and other experts to advise the government on admission levels for specific sectors of the economy based on unemployment levels and other factors.
The Coalition believes that a reformed immigration system should create greater opportunities for people to immigrate to the U.S. for employment purposes. The U.S. lags behind other advanced economies in the attention it pays to the education and skill levels of prospective immigrants. According to New American Economy, only about 14% of all U.S. green cards are given for economic reasons, compared to more than 60% in Canada and Australia. The U.S. should increase the number of green cards available for those with skills in short supply in the U.S. economy.
The Coalition commends the legalization provisions of the Biden proposal. It believes that it is in the best interest of the American people to regularize the status of law-abiding residents of the U.S. especially those with long-term ties to the country. Legalization enables people to come out of the shadows, realize their full potential, and become contributing members of society. A rapid path to legal status and citizenship is especially appropriate for DACA-eligible immigrants and TPS recipients.
The Coalition also supports the provisions designed to maintain the flow of international students and scholars to U.S. colleges and universities – a flow which diminished by 8% in 2019-2020, as other countries have begun to aggressively compete with the U.S. for a larger share of this talent pool. Maintaining our preeminence as a destination for international students is vital to retaining our position of world leadership in science and technology. More than 50% of international students have been in STEM fields. With the reforms contained in the new legislation, the most talented students will again feel welcome in the U.S. and will be able to use the OPT and H-1B programs as pathways to lawful permanent residence.
As the debate on immigration reform continues in Congress and in the country as a whole, the NJ Business Immigration Coalition will be releasing additional comments and recommendations. It urges members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation to support the above highlighted provisions of the proposed bill.
Organizational Members, NJ Business Immigration Coalition
American Conference on Diversity
Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce
Capital Region Minority Chamber of Commerce
Comarco Products, Inc.
Domain Computer Services
Genova Burns LLC
Hudson County Chamber of Commerce
Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce
Morris County Chamber of Commerce
New Jersey Business and Industry Association
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
New Jersey Chapter, American Immigration Lawyers Association