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New survey: Majority of business leaders favor immigration reform

When considering the top issue on the American political landscape, the economy likely comes to mind. But, another critical issue is inexorably tied to the economy: immigration. Both sides of the political spectrum have vehemently defended their positions on immigration; but how does it affect the economy?

In a new survey of those best positioned to answer that question, some of the nation’s top business leaders have made it clear that they believe business immigration strengthens individual enterprises and the economy as a whole.

Strong support for permitting more immigration

In the recent survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a panel of 500 business leaders answered questions regarding their stance on immigration reform issues. More than three out of four respondents – 77 percent – agreed that it is important that Congress pass an immigration reform measure in 2014.

The need for businesses to tap into highly skilled labor pools drove much of that support: 69 percent of respondents indicated that it is important to allow more immigration by high-skill foreign workers in order to bolster the U.S. economy.

The political affiliations of those surveyed showed how on the issue of immigration, business leaders may be willing to cross party lines for economic reasons. Altogether, 65 percent of the survey respondents favored a rewrite of immigration legislation in the U.S. Senate that includes doubling both the annual number of immigrants permitted to enter the country and the annual number of guest workers. The measure would also provide amnesty and a controversial pathway to citizenship for the approximately 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.

While only 45 percent of the general public was found to be in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants currently residing in the country, 75 percent of the business leaders surveyed who identified as Republicans favored the Senate bill that includes amnesty, compared to 63 percent of those who identified as Democrats and 55 percent who identified as independents.

The strong support for allowing more immigrants to legally work in the United States is not totally surprising; nearly half of the business leaders surveyed said that they had employed an immigrant worker. One of the world’s most successful and high profile entrepreneurs, Mark Zuckerburg, even started a political action group that seeks to encourage immigration reform and to permit cutting edge companies to more easily attract talent from all parts of the globe.

“In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country,” Zuckerburg said in recent Washington Post editorial. “Why do we kick out the more than 40% of math and science graduate students who are not U.S. citizens after educating them? Why do we offer so few H-1B visas for talented specialists that the supply runs out within day of becoming available each year, even though we know each of these jobs will create two or three more American jobs in return?”

An immigration attorney can help with employment-based immigration

If you run a business, you need talented people working for you in order to be successful; if you are a worker looking for a job in the United States, you need the country to welcome you as a resident. In either case, it is not yet certain how or when immigration reform will affect you. But, you can take proactive steps to resolve your immigration issue by contacting an immigration attorney. Get in touch with an immigration lawyer today to explore the legal avenues you can take to pursue your business immigration goals.

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