ESSENTIAL WORKERS?

LESS-SKILLED IMMIGRANTS AND THE U.S. ECONOMY

In June 2013, ImmigrationWorks held an event on less-skilled foreign workers. Do less-skilled immigrants take jobs from U.S. workers? Or are they filling jobs for which there are few willing and able Americans? Do we need a new less-skilled temporary worker program, and if so, how do we ensure it meets business needs while also protecting U.S. workers? A CEO of a national restaurant chain talked about what immigrant workers mean for his company. Then a panel of experts and advocates discussed the latest research and what’s at stake in the policy debate. The American Enterprise Institute cosponsored the event.
 

PANEL ONE THE BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE

 
                              

MODERATOR Walter Shapiro Columnist, Yahoo News

“The low-skilled worker visa program is a critical piece of the immigration legislation under consideration. Many Senators are speaking out about what business wants and needs in the bill.”

   

Andrew Puzder CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands

“The bill before Congress could really be a benefit to the United States. It would spur economic growth and expand consumption. As the CBO says, the bill would increase GNP and reduce the deficit.”

                    

 

PANEL TWO NEW RESEARCH AND POLICY PROPOSALS

 

 

MODERATOR Tamar Jacoby President, ImmigrationWorks USA

“Low-skilled American workers used to be more than half the workforce – but now they’re a shrinking pool. I imagine a swimming pool shrinking to a dixie cup and immigrants filling the gap.”

 

 
Madeline Zavodny Professor of economics, Agnes Scott College and adjunct scholar, American Enterprise Institute

“According to the ImmigrationWorks-AEI report on low-skilled workers, there has been a growing divergence between the educational levels of the U.S.-born workforce and the jobs we need to fill in the United States. That gap is being filled by immigrants.”

 

Frank Bean Chancellor’s professor of sociology and the director of the Center for Research on Migration, Population and Public Policy at the University of California at Irvine

“People have said for years that if employers paid more, there would be enough American workers to fill low-skilled jobs. I wish that were true. But Americans are increasingly educated and there are simply not enough U.S. workers to fill these jobs.”

 

 
Jenna Hamilton Director of immigration policy at the Leading Builders of America and partner at Capitol Legislative Strategies

“The Senate bill’s W Visa program for low-skilled workers has a good structure. But the program is so small that it doesn’t reflect market realities. There will not be enough visas under the program to fill employers’ labor needs.”

 
Josh Bernstein Director of immigration strategy and policy at the Service Employees International Union

“The Senate’s W Visa program for low-skilled workers is well designed. It places visa holders in shortage occupations, gives visa holders the option to go to another employer and incentivizes hiring U.S. workers first.”
 
 
WATCH THE VIDEO