American business needs immigration reform

Jan 09 2014, 02:45 IST
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SummaryUS immigration policies are not just hurting those looking to come to the country, but also those already here, by stifling opportunities for tremendous growth

One thing the overwhelming majority of Americans agree on, regardless of political party, is the need for immigration reform. Not only is it one of the keys necessary to create a healthier national economy and critical to the US’s security, growth, and prosperity, it is also an integral component for the success of American business.

The current employment-based immigration system is broken to the point of disarray—but not to a point of disrepair. The facts speak for themselves:

* In the European Union, work-related visas account for 40% of immigration (excluding intra-EU movement). In the United States, only 6% of foreign workers are granted permanent entry on work-related visas. Outdated institutional quotas are shutting talent and expertise out, when other countries are ushering them in.

* Overall, 36% of those receiving a highly-coveted, highly valuable science, technology, engineering or mathematics—or STEM-related—doctorate in a US university were students holding temporary visas. The situation is further exacerbated in PhD programs for engineering, mathematics, and computer science—over half of candidates enrolled are foreign students, studying in the US on temporary student visas. They’ll go home, or elsewhere, equipped with gold-mark US university credentials to put their education to work.

* Between 1993 and 2008, the proportion of scientists and engineers over 50 in the US increased from 18% to 27%. We’re simply not preparing to replace those who will soon retire.

While the US has a bright future, we must have policies that enable American business to grow and thrive. Our policies must ensure that the US is competitive around the world for decades to come.

Deloitte’s nearly 60,000 professionals work daily for over two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies, meaning our services, in some form, touch 17.5 million people, all of whom contribute to the strength and resilience of the US economy. What we experience first-hand and hear from our clients is that American businesses today have the desire, willingness, and potential to do more—to grow more, innovate more, hire more, and contribute more to the country's economy.

But to do it, they need the ability and access to hire the right people for the right jobs. Make no mistake: if we fail to attract the brightest minds and best people, other countries will. This is a global battle for talent—a battle the US is determined to win.

To keep the US on top as the desired destination for doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs, startups and headquarters of multinationals, to

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