Public policy related to immigration can significantly impact Pennsylvania employers, particularly in a globalizing economy in which businesses around the world are competing for talent. Lawmakers and public officials developing and enforcing immigration policy should strive to benefit employers and recognize how immigration policy and immigrants specifically contribute to American and Pennsylvania’s prosperity.
Accordingly, the PA Chamber supports federal immigration policies that serve as a catalyst to enhance U.S.-based companies’ international competitiveness and will help provide an adequate and predictable workforce:
- Expand and improve administration of programs that provide employer-sponsored green cards and temporary work visas made available annually for appropriately skilled workers; including allowing market conditions to help guide decisions related to caps and per-country allocations.
- Expand opportunities for foreign nationals with advanced degrees and/or an expertise in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields to achieve legal work status; workers in industries with a high demand for labor, like agriculture and construction; and disciplines that emphasize international talent recruitment.
- Encourage and help facilitate highly qualified foreign students who attend American institutions of higher education to remain in the United States following receipt of their degrees.
- Support consistency with and enforcement of federal immigration law and oppose immigration policies that call or allow for unduly punitive actions against employers, including state or local measures that conflict with or go beyond federal immigration policy.
The PA Chamber further supports efforts to improve and ensure the accuracy of the federal E-Verify system: a database through which employers can confirm the legal status of prospective employees. Should federal or state law require confirmation of an applicant’s legal status through E-verify, the PA Chamber believes the law should:
- Provide safe harbor protections for employers who attempt in good faith to satisfy the mandate;
- Only require businesses to verify new hires in a direct employer-employee relationship;
- Include preemption language to prohibit local municipalities from enacting their own mandate; and
- Allow for a reasonable implementation period.