Public policy related to immigration can significantly impact employers in Pennsylvania and is increasingly relevant to businesses in a globalizing economy. While border control and facilitating lawful immigration are clearly the primary missions of federal immigration laws and the government entities tasked with enforcement, policies should also benefit employers and recognize the role immigrants play in achieving economic success.
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. This includes expanding and improving administration of the programs that provide employer-sponsored green cards and temporary work visas made available annually for appropriately skilled workers. Immigration policies should specifically reflect the value of facilitating legal work status for foreign nationals with advanced degrees and/or an expertise in the so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields as well as workers in industries with a high demand for labor, like agriculture. The PA Chamber supports increasing the ability of highly qualified foreign students to attend American institutions of higher education and to remain in the United States following receipt of their degrees. The PA Chamber opposes 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.