The following joint statement was submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and National Interest, for a Feb. 25, 2016 hearing, "The Impact of High-Skilled Immigration on U.S. Workers."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable have long advocated for reforms to our immigration system that include various improvements that can be made to our nonimmigrant visa programs for high skilled workers. Our three associations continue to support meaningful reforms that will help U.S. companies attract and retain the best talent in the world to help American companies innovate and create jobs.
It is with this backdrop that we collectively express our concern with this hearing’s focus on trying to cast the H-1B program in a negative light with minimal reference to the job growth and opportunities that foreign workers can and do provide to the U.S. economy. Our three organizations understand that reforms may be needed to bolster the integrity of the H-1B program, but this hearing could have been an opportunity to take a holistic view of the H-1B program and examine potential reforms to make the program work better. This is a missed opportunity to discuss meaningful ways to improve the H-1B program. It is our hope that in the future, this subcommittee will provide further consideration to how programs like the H-1B program help support domestic job growth, as well as consider various other reforms that are needed to help our immigration system better serve the interests of our nation.
Multiple studies have shown the positive impacts on job creation and wage levels that the H-1B program has for American business and American workers. An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute and the Partnership for a New American Economy showed that adding 100 skilled workers is associated with an additional 183 jobs among native-born workers. A 2014 report by Business Roundtable, “Contributing to American Growth,” explained this multiplier effect: immigrant workers living in the United States become consumers and also contribute to their companies, which in turn produce and purchase more – all of which yield economic growth and increased employment opportunities for Americans. A report by the National Association of Manufacturers demonstrated the need for skilled immigrant workers when it found that 82% of U.S. manufacturers reported difficulty finding workers with the right skills.
And a 2015 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed that, in the aggregate, immigrant workers do not depress the wages of American workers, nor do they take away jobs from Americans. In fact, the studies cited in the Chamber report show that H-1B workers helped spur job creation in the U.S., along with helping to increase wages for American workers.
In order to grow and thrive, companies often make decisions to focus on their core competencies and hire experts to provide needed services that are unrelated to their core business. While these companies may employ workers on H-1B visas, they also employ many U.S. workers. Any proposed reform should recognize these facts and look for solutions that make the system work.
Our three organizations are fundamentally based on the idea of growing the U.S. economy, spurring innovation, and creating jobs within the United States. We are proud to represent thousands of companies that invest in the American dream every day. We do not dispute that the H-1B program -- like all aspects of the U.S. immigration system -- needs to be carefully examined. This one-sided hearing, however, is not designed to consider the benefits of the program, and we believe that is a disservice to the American people.