For more than a decade, promised immigration reform proposals never see the light of day. Meanwhile, U.S. corporations continue to struggle with immigrant workforce challenges. Now corporations are taking action due to political gridlock.
- How can business leaders be the new change agents for immigrant reform?
- Why is having a diverse workforce so important to the strength of our businesses and communities?
- What are the economic and social impacts of not advancing meaningful immigration policies? What changes would you make?
- The goal of the Corporate Roundtable for New American Workforce is to convene the nation’s leading corporations to advance strategies integrating new Americans into the U.S. labor market, so all have the opportunity to thrive.
- The foreign-born percentage of the working population increased from 13.1% in 2000 to 17.4% in 2018, showing the “necessity to support immigrant integration at work and in society,” the initiatives sign-on letter said.
- The roundtable members will meet to share thoughts on workforce integration, research focuses, and where to throw their weight in the policy discussion.
Following a 2019 trend of corporations taking a more public stance on political issues, many companies organized by the National Immigration Forum have signed on to a “New American Workforce” public letter promoting immigrant integration, including citizenship drives and English courses, policy support, and community services.
Additionally, Driscoll’s, Walmart, Chobani, Lyft, Uber, and Ben and Jerry’s—have formed an immigration corporate roundtable advocating for a joint platform. The roundtable is composed of a broad group of large U.S. corporations by design.
“The diversity of industry and diversity of skill levels included is a powerful representation of the value of the immigrant workforce,” said Jennie Murray, director of integration programs at the National Immigration Forum. “The topline message is when the immigrant workforce has the skills, status, and opportunity to reach their fullest potential, we all thrive.”
“Corporate America is seeing that congress is unable to act, and the administration is heading in a direction they are not comfortable with when it comes to immigration,” Murray said, pointing to several programs on the administration chopping block such as refugee resettlement, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and Temporary Protected Status, being met with few proposals for strengthening the pipeline of immigrant talent.
In 2018, there were more than 28 million foreign-born workers in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, constituting 17% of the U.S. labor force. In industries such as agriculture, service, maintenance, and construction, foreign-born labor makes up anywhere from a quarter to half of the workers.
According to Driscoll’s President Soren Bjorn, “The foreign-born agricultural workforce is shrinking in size and there aren’t many clear solutions on the table today for where that workforce is going to come from in the future. This is a significant threat to our business, and any U.S. company in the fresh fruit and vegetable business.”