Badgering Congress on the Economic Urgency of Immigration Reform

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“The birthplace of the people who possess those minds is not a matter of great interest to us and neither should it be to anyone else.  Bringing capable immigrants -- many of whom receive their educations at U.S. colleges and universities -- into our workforce expands our economic growth, makes our companies more competitive internationally and creates more jobs for all workers.”

That’s the message that BioForward -- a group of forward-looking bioscience companies in Wisconsin -- is carrying today.  A column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning underscores the economic urgency inherent in immigration reform.

  

[F]oreign-born entrepreneurs -- who are very prominently involved in high-tech start-ups -- also face insufficient visa availability.  Immigrants have always been a major entrepreneurial force in the U.S. economy; they are even more important today, when advances in technology are opening up more opportunities for new businesses than ever before.

It is hard to find someone in the Wisconsin bioscience industry who does not support immigration reform. It is frustrating to watch competent graduates of Wisconsin schools be turned down for visas while jobs go unfilled and business opportunities go untried. Foreign-born high-skilled workers do not take jobs away from Americans. It makes no sense to turn them away when their work here could trigger the creation of more employment opportunities for workers in a wide variety of directly and indirectly connected industries.

 

ITI doesn’t represent biotech companies, but the members of ITI and BioForward are part of a larger knowledge-based economy that depends on the United States remaining the intellectual and innovation capital of the world.  We want the best and brightest minds from around the world to come here, call America home, and help us to create critical new jobs, new businesses, and new industries.  There is a genuine opportunity for Congress to bolster the too-long-sagging U.S. economy by passing an immigration plan that would accelerate economic opportunity in communities coast to coast.

Consider the data in a recent report from Regional Economic Models, Inc., which examined the economic changes if the Senate-passed immigration reform bill were to also pass in the House.  The high-skilled improvements alone would provide a major lift:

 

As a result of the H-1B program expansion, we estimate that employment will increase by 227 thousand jobs in 2014, and will continue to expand, with a net increase of 1.3 million jobs by 2045.  Gross domestic product will increase by $22 billion in 2014 and more than $158 billion by 2045.  Employment and gross state product is estimated to increase for all states and in all years from 2014 to 2045 as a result of the H-1B program expansion. 

 

Congress has myriad issues with which it’s wrestling, but creating millions of new jobs and infusing billions of dollars into the U.S. economy should not take a backseat.  Getting immigration reform done -- and done right -- will give America the economic edge we’ve all been seeking.

REMI Chart Highlights the Economic Benefits of High-Skilled Immigration Reforms

REMI chart on immigration reform

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