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January 25, 2015

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Reforming immigration is vital for national security, economic growth

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As Washington debates how to fix America’s immigration system, the time has come for realistic solutions that will both strengthen national security and boost economic growth.

Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs, believes immigration reform is essential for creating a healthy economy.

Overhauling our immigration system will place more resources toward enforcement, produce a more dynamic and skilled labor force, and enable businesses to compete more effectively in the global marketplace. Reform can help accelerate our economic recovery and, as a result, encourage hiring. Here’s how:

Business requires certainty — a predictable environment in which to plan and make investment decisions.

That means the law must be consistently enforced and legal immigration channels must function properly. Border controls and immigration law enforcement must be strengthened and an employment verification system should ensure that each new worker is legally authorized to live and work here.

The current federal system, E-Verify, has improved but is still vulnerable to fraud and identity theft.

The federal government should bear the responsibility for maintaining the database behind this electronic system, making sure it’s reliable, accurate and guards against fraud. Employers, then, must bear the responsibility of checking every new hire in that system.

Looking ahead, all Americans would benefit by welcoming those who would come here legally to work and contribute to our economy.

Today, the visa system prevents many foreign-born scientists, engineers and other highly educated professionals from working in the United States. Faced with a shortage of temporary high-skilled visas and six- to 10-year waits for employment-based green cards, foreign graduates of U.S. universities are taking their talents elsewhere. Wouldn’t it be better to have them working for us?

Consider that immigrants or the children of immigrants founded 40 percent of U.S. Fortune 500 companies. Almost 25 percent of engineering and technology companies founded here from 2006 to 2012 had at least one foreign-born founder. Across America, these companies employed about 560,000 workers and generated $63 billion in sales in 2012.

Sadly, our broken immigration system now deprives the nation of too many young, educated hard-working people who can represent the best of America, our entrepreneurial spirit.

At the same time, no workable legal visa exists for employers to fill jobs that are essential and do not require a high school degree — like service personnel at hotels, restaurants and in other sectors.

Despite high U.S. unemployment, for a variety of reasons these jobs may go unfilled as small businesses struggle to grow without these essential workers. Without practical visa programs, immigrants are, in effect, encouraged to enter the country illegally.

Skeptics often say that all business wants is a steady supply of low-wage workers. Bringing the current 11 million undocumented immigrants into the legal workforce means that current workers no longer will have to compete with undocumented workers willing to accept below-market wages. Ultimately, wages will go up.

Of course, those who came or stayed here in violation of the law must face consequences — admitting their wrongdoing, paying a fine and undergoing a criminal background check. Those who qualify would have the chance to work, learn English and earn their citizenship.

This newly legal workforce will be more mobile, able to move to different regions and jobs as the labor market demands. This new labor dynamism also will add to local economic growth, producing higher wages.

With support from both political parties and the president, realistic solutions for our broken immigration system are within sight — solutions that will improve U.S. competitiveness, add jobs and drive growth. The stronger economy that results will benefit all Americans.

Greg Brown heads Business Roundtable’s Select Committee on Immigration. He wrote this for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

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  1. It can be "fixed" without ANY TYPE of legalization of illegal aliens!

    Attrition Through Enforcement Is the True Middle-ground Solution

    The open borders crowd constantly tell the American people that there are only two solutions to our nation's illegal alien crisis -- give illegal aliens amnesty or round them up and deport them. This is a diversionary tactic to draw public attention away from the most effective and efficient solution -- Attrition Through Enforcement.

    The principle behind Attrition Through Enforcement is that living illegally in the United States will become more difficult and less satisfying over time when the government -- at ALL LEVELS -- enforces all of the laws already on the books. It is also imperative that the government with the full cooperation of the private sector, implements certain workplace enforcement measures. The goal is to make it extremely difficult for unauthorized persons to live and work in the United States. There is no need for taxpayers to watch the government spend billions of their dollars to round up and deport illegal aliens; they will buy their own bus or plane tickets back home if they can no longer earn a living here.

    Help stop ANOTHER Amnesty (Both legalization and path to citizenship are Amnesties):


    Numbersusa is a grassroot organization with 1.3 million members, who lobbies in Washington D.C. against illegal immigration and they will show what YOU can do to help. Be sure to sign up for their e-mails that will let you know when the latest bills dealing with illegal immigration are being introduced and how YOU can make a difference! Support Numbersusa!

  2. "Attrition Through Enforcement"? Sounds like self-deportatation with lipstick.

  3. Annex Mexico with the peoples' and government consent. End of problem. Beginning of solution.

    Carmine D

  4. Part 1 of 2:
    Writer Greg Brown, has written his way into a round circle. We all get that "reforming immigration is vital for national security." Once again, it is about HOW, which it appears this "round table" did nothing more than restate the obvious.

    As it is, the Las Vegas Sun Commenters offered more solutions for reform than did the writer, Greg Brown. Personally, I trust them more, because they are realistic and down to earth, than the high and lofty, out of touch, and self interest driven business corporate round table. There is a credibility issue using this round table in my book.

    Because we as USA Citizen taxpayers don't want to continue throwing good money after bad, enforcing all the immigration laws currently on the books, and fixing problem, bottleneck laws that bring reason and streamlining to the process, is the best way to tackle the problem.

    Over the past few years, based on my own experiences, attrition does work. Quite a few of my students' families have returned to the country of their origin due to lack of work here. These people have NO interest in becoming United States Citizens, their mission is working for money. They refuse to assimilate into the greater American culture, refuse to learn the English language to support their young children through 13 years of public education in our American schools.

    By allowing these illegals here, it is causing a huge problem throughout the USA with an "educated workforce" which, as we all know and hear, and as the round table lamented, "Business requires certainty -- a predictable environment in which to plan and make investment decisions."

    It is way past time to tighten up our behaviors and attitudes towards those who are here illegally. The evidence is in, with millions of children of illegals adversely affecting our educational system and world rating. It is HARMING our country to continue the path it has been on. That is the bottom line of this whole controversy: is it causing harm? Answer: "YES!"

    Blessings and Peace,

  5. Part 2 of 2:

    For those who feel tightening up the laws and attrition is not the answer to illegal immigration, might I propose gathering these illegal individuals and illegal families and having them work through the proper immigration process in a detainment center/camp that is a mini-city with productive industries for them to have work (be employed, providing for themselves and their families), healthcare assistance, schools for learning the English language, social service assistants to guide them through the proper means and mountains of paperwork in the legal immigration process. They pay their way, no free rides, going the LEGAL route to citizenship.

    I oppose amnesty. My own grandparents legally immigrated to the USA and learned the English language, insured my mother, aunts, and uncles mastered English and became productive, successful citizens and members of the United States of America, I am most proud to say, and am proud of them. Those who illegally enter and abuse our system are criminals, and should be treated as such. NO Lawmaker gets my vote, who gives illegals a free pass into our country and into my neighborhood.

    For CarmineD: If Mexico was annexed into the USA, they would proceed into forcing US into THEIR culture and language. Is that acceptable?

    For Jim: Nice analogy!

    For Mr.Nelson and NumbersUSA: You do offer a "middle ground" approach. The challenge is getting the word out and convincing people to take action in our apathetic, lazy society. Good luck.

    Blessings and Peace,

  6. "For CarmineD: If Mexico was annexed into the USA, they would proceed into forcing US into THEIR culture and language. Is that acceptable?"

    No, it won't. We are 50 states now. None and no group of any by region has done so in 235 years. Recall the Civil War. What makes you think Mexico will?

    Carmine D

  7. If you want to go by the numbers, and please check them for yourself, America has 315 million citizens and Mexico about 100 million.

    Carmine D

  8. "For Jim: Nice analogy!"

    But not a viable solution. Just a set back. Send them back, they and others will return. The U.S. is paradise. How are you going to keep them from coming?

    Carmine D