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Blog Category: Comprehensive immigration reform

Why Immigration Reform Matters

Secretary Pritzker visited the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall to show support for passing commonsense immigration

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker

This week, I visited the “Fast for Families” tent on the National Mall with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to show our support for passing commonsense immigration reform. I was humbled by the courageous men and women we spoke with, who are making a personal sacrifice to end the human suffering they have witnessed as a result of our current immigration system. 

The “Fast for Families” was launched by faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders on November 12 and has been ongoing since.  The dedicated leaders who have gathered to fast on the National Mall have been driven by their individual experiences, but they are united in their commitment to seeing Congress pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Those I met with included Rudy Lopez, who had already completed 21 days of his fast. I spoke with the son of Iranian immigrants, the daughter of migrant workers, and an undocumented immigrant from Mexico City who was on the fifth day of her fast. They each had a different story, but they all expressed their desire to live in a country that remains the source of hope and opportunity for people all over the world.

The fact is, the vibrant fabric of this nation has always been made up of immigrants. My great grandfather came to the United States in the 1800s from Czarist Russia, dirt poor, at the age of 10. He taught himself English, worked several jobs, earned his law degree at night, and opened a law practice at the age of 30 in 1902. His story is the story of countless immigrants to this country, who come to America seeking a better life and better opportunities. In doing so, they have contributed to our success as a nation.

In 2011, immigrants started 28 percent of all new businesses in the United States, though they only accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population. And, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

The President and the Senate’s bipartisan proposal builds a smart, effective immigration system that continues efforts to secure our borders and makes sure that every business and every worker plays by the same set of rules. Estimates are that the Senate-passed immigration reform bill can grow the economy by $1.4 trillion over the next two decades and reduce the deficit by nearly $850 billion. Commonsense reform will also attract the best minds to America by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here. As well, it will provide our nation’s best and brightest foreign students with an opportunity to pursue an education and stay in this country after graduation.  Immigration reform will also reunite families in a timely and humane manner.

I have traveled all over the country since I was sworn in as Secretary of Commerce nearly 6 months ago, and I have heard tremendous support for passing immigration reform. The business community understands the numerous ways in which immigrants to this country not only benefit our economy but enrich our nation. The passionate example set by the fasters – who are so dedicated to making their voices heard – is one we can all emulate. Their courage and commitment is shining a light on what is morally right for this country and the values we, as Americans, represent. 

Secretary Pritzker Discusses Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform in Iowa

Secretary Pritzker visited Des Moines, Iowa, today as part of her overall listening tour to hear directly from business leaders on how the public and private sectors can work together to strengthen the economy and create American jobs. 

While in Des Moines, Secretary Pritzker met with local business leaders on the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, which is key to the country’s economic growth. Commonsense immigration reform will reduce the deficit and grow the economy. In fact, the Senate-passed bill would grow the economy by 5.4 percent over the next two decades and increase labor force participation by 3.5 percent in 2023 and 5 percent in 2033, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. 

Immigrants and children of immigrants make significant contributions to the U.S. economy. In Iowa, the labor force is 5.3 percent foreign born and these men and women generate $216 million in income for the state each year.

During the roundtable, Secretary Pritzker heard from representatives from the health care community who favor immigration reform as a way to address a shortage of physicians in the area. Many around the table said that Iowa would be better served if the foreign-born students trained in Iowa's schools – and in their technology programs in particular – were allowed to stay in the United States. Others said that immigration reform would help them expand the pool of labor available to fill entry-level jobs. 

Commonsense comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs while at the same time fostering innovation and entrepreneurism.

Businesses Need Common Sense Immigration Reform to Keep Growing, Creating American Jobs

Dr. Blank and members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (photo: Colin Buckner, Silicon Valley Leadership Group)

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Deputy Secretary of Commerce

Yesterday, I was in California to talk with business executives who are part of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. We discussed key issues facing them as they continue to grow, create jobs, and drive both innovation and competitiveness here in the U.S.

They just completed an annual survey of their own membership. The biggest business challenge that they identified was their ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce.

I let them know that President Obama understands that we are in a global competition for talent and we want the best people right here in the U.S.

Locke and Duncan Discuss Comprehensive Immigration Reform with Members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Secretary Gary Locke and Education Secretary Arne Duncan participated in a conference call today to discuss comprehensive immigration reform with members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The pair made the case for why effective immigration reform is vital to U.S. economic competitiveness and why the involvement of the business community is crucial to move this important priority forward. Approximately 175 people from at least 30 states joined the call, including 80 CEOs and representatives from businesses, local and state chambers of commerce and industry and trade associations. 

Locke discussed how comprehensive reform will help create jobs in the U.S. and stressed the need to build an immigration system that will attract the brightest, most highly-skilled people from around the world, so their skills, ideas and entrepreneurial spirit can help start new businesses, enhancing U.S. global competitiveness.  Locke specifically highlighted two proposed approaches for reforming the current visa system: encouraging top foreign talents who receive a graduate degree in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to remain in the U.S. after they graduate by allowing them to acquire legal permanent residence; and issuing two-year visas to immigrant entrepreneurs whose start-up companies receive investment from a U.S. investor, and giving these entrepreneurs permanent residence if their companies create full-time jobs in the U.S. within those two years.  Locke urged members of the Chamber to help make the case in their communities that comprehensive immigration reform is an economic imperative critical to America’s future economic competitiveness. 

Locke asked participants on the call to add their voice to the national conversation by visiting www.whitehouse.gov/immigrationaction and hosting a conversation in their community about why we need to fix the broken immigration system.