Domestic Policy Council

Communities Coming Together: Immigration and the Economy

On Monday November 7, Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services traveled to Nashville, TN to discuss the current state of our immigration system and its impact on the economy.  Hosted by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the roundtable included business leaders and stakeholders from Gaylord Entertainment, Hospital Corporation of America, Business Forward, and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

The Partnership for a New American Economy is a group spearheaded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and includes mayors and business leaders who support immigration reform, including Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. This fruitful discussion emphasized the important role immigration plays in strengthening our American economy and showcased the urgency being expressed by businesses leaders for immigration reform.

In an op-ed by Director Mayorkas in The Tennessean he states, “We must continue to attract and retain enterprising individuals who can invest their talents, skills and ideas to grow our economy and create American jobs.”

Business leaders agreed that current immigration laws, particularly those that prevent companies from hiring foreign workers and restrict international students from staying in the US after college graduation, need to be improved to reflect our country’s current economic needs for high skilled labor.

Director Mayorkas' streamlining of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was also discussed and praised by the business community. The EB-5 program allows foreign investors and their families to gain a permanent resident visa if they can create or preserve at least 10 full time U.S. jobs through a substantial investment. Though many of the participants viewed the current efforts by the Obama Administration and USCIS to be positive steps forward, they acknowledged the need for Congress to act in reforming our immigration system as a whole.

This roundtable event  was successful in prompting a positive conversation about the changes needed to be made to our current immigration laws in order for our country to have a 21st century immigration system that will not only benefit American businesses but the American economy overall.

To learn more about USCIS efforts to fully realize the job-creating potential under the current immigration law, click here.

Felicia Escobar is Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council.

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