U.S. Chamber Statement on Immigration Executive Order

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - 5:15pm

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement in response to President Biden's executive order on immigration. 

"We commend President Biden for taking action to ensure the reunification of separated families, address irregular migration across the Southern Border, and improve the functionality of our nation's immigration system by conducting a top-to-bottom review of barriers to our legal immigration system. Policies adopted over the past several years have undermined critical employment-based visa programs and significantly hindered many different companies' ability to expand their domestic operations and create jobs for Americans. President Biden’s order to coordinate immigration policy through the White House and his effort to ensure that legal immigration is fair and efficient are a clear indication of the priority his administration has placed on fixing our broken immigration system. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to address these critical issues.

“Many other problems that are afflicting our nation's immigration system, such as the growing backlogs in our legal immigration system, require Congressional action. Congress must pass common-sense immigration reforms to provide businesses with the certainty they need to meet their workforce demands in a timely fashion. Enacting those reforms will require steadfast leadership, and the Chamber stands ready to work with President Biden and Congress to get much-needed reforms signed into law."

Our nation's broken immigration system inhibits the ability of companies to grow and create jobs for Americans.

  • Recent data shows that U.S. employment-based green card backlogs surpassed 1.2 million people. This leaves many hard workers and their families not only waiting for decades to become lawful permanent residents but also prevents them from otherwise progressing in their careers. 
    • This limits their personal and professional development and impedes their employer from optimizing human capital.
    • As our economy recovers, our nation's immigration system needs to provide greater access to employment-based green cards to eliminate today's backlogs and more importantly, avoid these types of problems in the future.  
  • Many companies also struggle to meet their critical workforce needs due to the arbitrary annual limits and other burdensome rules associated with various nonimmigrant work visa classifications.
    • H-1B workers are critical drivers of innovation at companies across a host of industries. A May 2020 report found that increases in the number of H-1B workers in a given occupation boost both overall employment rates in that occupation and earnings growth for workers in that population. These findings suggest that more H-1B workers positively impact the wages and working conditions of American workers.  
    • Similar findings exist in other industries where the work entailed does not require a college degree. One study found that additional H-2B workers help drive domestic employment in the U.S., as every additional H-2B in the U.S. helped 4.64 American workers find work.
    • Intracompany transferees in the L-1 visa category play an essential role in driving foreign direct investment into the U.S., as key executives, managers, and specialists are necessary to ensure that these investments in the U.S. drive job creation for American workers. Like the H-1B category, many L-1 workers are employed in computer-related occupations. The unemployment rate in these occupations is lower than it was before the pandemic took its toll on our nation's economy. Ensuring that companies have access to these critical employees will help drive continued economic growth in the U.S.