Immigrants are the lifeblood of American innovation, the American economy and the American Dream. Immigrants bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to our companies and our communities. They are workers and taxpayers who complement the domestic workforce and make contributions large and small to our everyday lives. They are also our neighbors. Immigrants built our country and are central to its future.
America truly is a nation of immigrants. It is also a nation governed by the rule of law. U.S. immigration policy must balance these values. It must also reflect the realities of the 21st century economy. It must help build a diverse workforce that allows American companies to serve global customers and compete in new markets. America is more connected to the world today than ever before.
Unfortunately, U.S. immigration policy today is failing our country and all who have a stake in America’s success. Legal channels for immigration have not kept pace with the U.S. economy; immigration laws have been indiscriminately enforced; 11 million immigrants live in the United States without documentation or under temporary relief from removal; and laws are too often applied without transparency, consistency or predictability.
America’s business leaders believe we can, and must, do better as a nation. U.S. immigration policy can keep our country and citizens safe while remaining true to the American values of welcoming immigrants, protecting the vulnerable and treating all people fairly – and Congress should fulfill its oversight role to ensure laws are evenly and consistently applied.
With these values as a guide, we propose four principles for modernizing the U.S. immigration system to reflect the world we live in today:
- The United States should increase the number of skills-based immigrants. U.S. immigration policy should reflect the widely accepted fact that our economy and communities have benefited from immigrants’ knowledge, skills and hard work — particularly in the high-demand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
- The United States should improve access to temporary workers with skills needed in the marketplace. A modern U.S. immigration system will allow talented, foreign-born workers to fill critical skills gaps that will fuel economic growth and will ensure policies are applied transparently, consistently and predictably.
- The United States should use cutting-edge technology to improve the immigration system. Just as companies employ leading innovations to improve processes and keep America competitive, the government should use cutting-edge technology to enhance national security, prevent unlawful immigration and administer immigration laws.
- Congress must embrace a bipartisan, practical solution to address undocumented immigrants and those living under temporary relief from removal. Whether it be individuals who entered the United States without authorization, minor children they brought with them, or individuals who have been granted temporary relief from removal, Congress needs to address these populations with fair, just and practical solutions.