Last month, Representatives Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Scott Peters (CA-52) led 71 other colleagues in a letter to President Obama, urging him to take concrete actions to help clear the green card backlog, improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, and provide a critical shot in the arm for innovation and job creation. “The United States provides top-notch educations to smart folks from around the world, and our economy stands to benefit from their brilliance after graduation,” said Congressman Castro. “Using his authority, President Obama can help eliminate the backlog of green card applications, retain talent educated in America, and enhance our nation’s ability to lead in today’s global economy.”
“If we want the best and brightest from around the world, who we are educating at American universities, to stay here and start or join innovative ventures here in the United States, we must fix this broken system,” Rep. Peters said. “President Obama can take simple steps today to recapture these unused visas, and help grow the economy and create American jobs.”
Under the current, broken system, over 200,000 applications from people who qualify for green cards have been delayed due to bureaucratic error. That has unnecessarily hampered our economic growth, keeping families separated and making it more difficult for entrepreneurs to keep the talented individuals they need to grow their businesses here at home.
The text of the letter is printed below.
Dear Mr. President:
We write to encourage you to proceed with modernizing and streamlining the U.S. immigrant visa system, a policy you announced that you would pursue as part of the Presidential memorandum on executive immigration action on November 21, 2014. We agree with your characterization that “immigrants have helped the United States build the world’s strongest economy,” and hope that further administrative progress toward reform can be made as quickly as possible given the urgent need to address economic challenges posed by our broken immigration system.
As you know, businesses big and small, in nearly every sector of our economy, support immigration reform. Additionally, more than 3 in 4 Americans across the political spectrum support fixing our badly broken system. As American companies continue to grow, improving U.S. economic competitiveness, they need the ability to hire employees with specialized skills, specifically in the STEM fields. While we must continue to take steps to create the native-born high-skilled American workforce we need, high-skilled immigrants contribute to our expanding technology sector, create American jobs, and raise the wages of native-born American workers.
Our broken immigration system is far behind the needs of our rapidly expanding economy. Immigrants allow the U.S. to compete in a global economy. Without reform, entrepreneurs and business owners are unable to hire the talent they need, many workers may be separated from their families, and hardworking foreign students who’ve earned their education at U.S. institutions will be kicked out to work for our global competitors - rather than creating their companies and growing jobs here at home. Year after year, applications for H-1B visas are met within mere days of the lottery opening. Our current immigration visa problems prevent the best and the brightest from expanding their companies in the U.S., growing our economy, and creating American jobs.
In the absence of fundamental legislative reform to our broken system, we strongly encourage you to do what you can administratively to right this wrong. We are encouraged that you state in the memorandum that you will consult with relevant stakeholders to “ensure that administrative policies, practices, and systems use all of the immigrant visa numbers that the Congress provides for and intends to be issued, consistent with demand.”
Visa recapture is an essential part of fixing our broken immigration system. We believe that in the absence of fundamental legislative reform, we can make progress toward the goal of recapturing and reallocating all previously unused visas administratively. This reform could impact hundreds of thousands of employment-based visas and would be the largest boost in decades impacting the business community’s urgent challenges navigating our broken legal immigration system.
We urge you to modernize our immigrant visa inefficiencies by recapturing all previously unused green cards to benefit our country’s innovation, spur economic power, and help entrepreneurs create American jobs without further delay.
Published: April 9, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 52