Immigration ‘far and away’ the top national policy concern for business

Dive Brief:

  • Immigration reform is “far and away and without a doubt” the top national policy concern of business advocates at the state level, according to an Aug. 31 report from law firm Littler.
  • State chambers of commerce and their members feel strongly that immigration reform must be approached broadly, addressing all skill levels and with an eye toward labor market demands, according to the report.
  • Specifically, the report called for a sufficient supply of H-1B and similar visas, and timely processing for those high-skill workers. And for guest workers, a more reliable verification system is needed; “Some employers call E-Verify a ‘disaster’ although they may not be willing to say this publicly,” Littler said. Business advocates additionally called for protections for DACA individuals and opportunities for occupational licensing for immigrants with professional backgrounds. Finally, the federal government could improve employment policies and funding for refugees, the representatives said.

Dive Insight:

Employers have long sought immigration reforms, especially with respect to visa availability. Thirty-six percent of U.S. employers responding to a survey last year said not enough green cards are available; 41% said too few H-1B visas are available.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber urged Congress to modernize the immigration system to address employers’ talent needs. “As a result of COVID and other policy changes, there are one million fewer college educated immigrants in the United States today,” the group’s executive vice president and chief policy officer said at the time; “We can’t get inflation under control, unclog our supply chains, or fully grow our economy and remain competitive unless we welcome more people into our country to fill these jobs.”

Attorneys previously told HR Dive that without such policy changes, employers may need to keep an eye on immigration’s role in their talent strategies and plan for visa processing delays.

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