Weekend Reading: Highlights from this week’s immigration news (May 2-6)

Politico reporter Seung Min Kim reports that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working to effectively expand the number of low-skilled H-2B worker visas available each year. Sending a letter to the Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for the Department of Homeland Security, nine representatives are hoping to see a higher cap for H-2B visas put in place, making what was a temporary increase in the cap, permanent. Normally, these visas are capped at 66,000 a year, which pro-business advocates have called an “artificially low number” that risks harm to important American industries. “’For [businesses], it’s just simple math,’ said Jeremy Robbins, the executive director of the pro-reform Partnership for a New American Economy, which supports the H-2B program. ‘Their reality is that it could be peak season … and they won’t be able to open for season if they can’t get a few key workers. For them, this is crazy.’”

This week, the conservative think tank American Action Forum released a report showing that deporting the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country would result in a major disruption to the U.S. economy. Given that more than 6.8 million of these immigrants in the United States are employed, their removal would represent a shock to the nation’s economy to the tune of $381.5 to $623.2 billion, or about 2 percent of total U.S. GDP, the report calculates.

Similarly, U.S. tech leaders released an open letter to presidential candidates this Wednesday, detailing how they think the next president can best support America’s economically crucial tech sector. Aside from further developing and expanding the science and technology workforce within the country, the letter, authored and signed by 13 U.S. technology industry groups, also names the expansion of high-skilled visa programs in order to recruit and retain foreign workers.

The Washington Post’s Sergio Bustos reports this week that the divisiveness of the presidential election thus far, particularly on issues related to immigration, is being seen as a major push factor in increased naturalization rates for eligible foreign-born residents. Across the country the second half of 2015 saw naturalization proceedings 14 percent higher as compared to the last six months of 2014. This wave of increased naturalization could have tremendous impacts on the next and future elections, as almost 9 million legal permanent residents are estimated to be eligible for citizenship.

In case you missed it…

As employers strive to increase their competitiveness in the global economy, they are increasingly seeking candidates who have the language skills necessary to communicate with a diver customer base, and with operations and competitors overseas. New analysis from PNAE shows that demand for bilingual workers is increasing in Maryland. Learn more about it here.




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New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…