Manufacturers Support CIR

By: Joe Trauger, Vice President, Human Resources Policy, National Association of Manufacturers

Follow the National Association of Manufacturers at @ShopFloorNAM.

Five years ago, the National Association of Manufacturers amended its guiding policy document to include support for comprehensive immigration reform. While immigration reform efforts in Congress since 2007 have largely focused on the high-skilled H1-B categories, we are now presented with a tremendous opportunity to address immigration reform from a broader perspective. The NAM is pleased to be working with organizations like the League of United Latin American Citizens in achieving our shared goal of comprehensive immigration reform.

The business case for supporting rational immigration policy is pretty simple – American manufacturers are competing globally and need access to the best, brightest and hardest working people they can find. A few years ago, a study by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group of business and civic leaders, found that over 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were either started by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Manufacturers are well represented in this group. American manufacturing enterprises founded by immigrants span all sectors, from technology, to steel, to chemicals, to medical devices and many others. All told, the study concluded that major companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants have an economic impact larger than all but two of our competitors, Japan and China.

Our existing employment-based immigration system is hindering economic growth and badly needs reform. Manufacturers need a functional legal immigration system that efficiently deals with the lack of necessary green cards and visas. American companies cannot hire the employees they need and will either not hire at all or move jobs abroad if the workers are not available domestically. Put simply, we need to raise the caps on the number of green cards and visas and create a functional system for hiring employees in order for reform to be a workable solution for manufacturers.

Comprehensive reform should look to create a program to address the future needs of the workforce. The creation of a functional, legal system is critical to our long-term success and avoiding the need to come back in 20 years trying to determine how to manage the next generation of 12 million undocumented people residing in the United States. Hand in hand with the need to address the next generation workforce is the need to have a verification system that is fair and reliable.

Finally, the NAM is committed to working with LULAC, Members of Congress, and our President to enact comprehensive immigration reform that includes a clear and reasonable pathway to legal status or citizenship. Whether it is politically popular or not, many of the undocumented or falsely documented were born here and many others have lived here for years. For any immigration reform measure to be successful, it needs to address this issue in a forthright manner.

On behalf of the NAM, I would like to express our appreciation and high hopes for partnership on this critical issue and others.

Sign LULAC's "I Voted for Immigration Reform" Campaign to send a postcard to your Members of Congress saying that you expect immigration reform at LULAC.org/CIR2013.

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