Republican Congressman Jeff Denham, Central Valley business leaders and policymakers reaffirm need for immigration reform to protect Dreamers and American workers

Posted by FWD.us on 04/19/2017

MODESTO, CA – Local entrepreneurs and business and elected leaders today highlighted the need for commonsense immigration reform at a roundtable discussion hosted by FWD.us and the Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (CVHCC), calling for legislative solutions that work better for the California economy. Roughly 70 community members attended the event. Speakers included Republican Congressman Jeff Denham (CA-10); Assemblymember Heath Flora; Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen and Congregations Building Community Executive Director Homero Mejia. Also speaking was Alexis Angulo, a DACA recipient who is currently Senior Class President at Central Valley High School and is slated to attend Dartmouth College next year.

The panel addressed the role that immigrants play in small business, agriculture, and other critical industries in the Central Valley. In California’s 10th Congressional District, represented by Republican Congressman Jeff Denham, immigrants make up almost 60% of the agriculture industry, 35% of the construction industry, and 34.2% of the manufacturing industry.

In the discussion, Congressman Denham also underscored the need to pass a bipartisan legislative solution to shield the almost two million Dreamers from deportation. Almost 800,000 Dreamers are currently protected under the DACA program, which allows them to work, study and pay billions of dollars in taxes to the U.S. economy. Eliminating DACA and removing Dreamers from the workforce would cost the United States $433.4 billion in GDP loss over a decade.

Immigration challenges are increasingly sowing uncertainty among Central Valley communities. Local businesses thrive on the talent and labor contributed by immigrants. Immigrant residents in the Modesto area are 20% more likely to be entrepreneurs than native-born residents, and in 2014 paid more than $296 million in state and local taxes.

“Congress must lead in fixing our broken immigration system, with an important part of the plan being a path to legal status for Dreamers who were brought here as children,” said Congressman Denham. “These hardworking young people are already part of our communities, and they deserve a fair and thoughtful solution that will bring certainty to their lives. One way would be through my ENLIST Act, which will allow otherwise qualified Dreamers to earn legal permanent residence through military service.”

“Immigrants are critical contributors to the Modesto business community. In the 10th Congressional district alone, there are 5,812 immigrant entrepreneurs,” said Central Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Christine Schweininger. “We believe that supporting immigrants in our region through business development, federal immigration reform, and other community initiatives is vital to the success of our economy and our district.”

“As a lifelong farmer, I know firsthand that immigrants are the backbone of the Central Valley agriculture industry,” said Assemblymember Heath Flora. “When we are talking about Dreamers, we are talking about undocumented children who have grown up in our communities. We have already invested time and taxpayer dollars educating and raising these kids right here at home. It doesn’t make much fiscal sense to me to send them back to a different country after being trained and educated on our dime. If Dreamers can obey the law and continue to be contributing members of our society, the federal government should work to grant them a legal status through immigration reform.”

“I support Congressman Denham’s efforts to provide a pathway to legal status for Dreamers who are contributing to our community.” said Stanislaus County Supervisor Kristin Olsen. “There are around 11,000 DACA-eligible individuals in Stanislaus and Merced Counties who grew up here and want to more fully contribute to our economy and our communities.  We need to fix our broken immigration system so that law-abiding people can live free from the fear of deportation and earn their way to legal residency and ultimately citizenship.”

“I’ve grown up in Gustine – it’s my home. I’m currently the Senior Class President at Gustine High School, and will attend Dartmouth College next year to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering. I’ve held internships and jobs in our community, have been involved in Future Farmer’s of America, and currently lead the AP Chemistry Club. I will graduate from Gustine High School this coming year with a 4.24 GPA,” said Alexis Angulo, a DACA recipient from Modesto. “The Modesto community would benefit tremendously by passing into law a pathway to legal status for Dreamers like me. Our neighborhoods and our country won’t benefit by breaking up families.”

“As a country, we must give DACA recipients a legal pathway to gain status,” said Homero Mejia, executive director of Congregations Building Community. They have shown their unwavering commitment to their country by working, going to school, or serving in the military. They should be given the chance to gain legal status and fully give back to their communities.”

The panel also discussed the importance of immigrant workers to California’s farming industry; Central Valley is the state’s agriculture hub, and California produces more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts consumed in the United States. Approximately 70% of workers who produce that food are undocumented. Other industries in the Central Valley, such as construction and manufacturing, also rely heavily on the contributions of immigrants. Rep. Denham shared his vision for encouraging other Members of Congress to support legislation which recognizes that the immigration system is broken, and that reform will allow the communities and economies of the Central Valley to become increasingly dynamic centers of production and innovation.

FWD.us & Central Valley Leaders discuss Immigration Reform

FWD.us Statement on Executive Order

Posted by FWD.us on 04/18/2017

Today, FWD.us President Todd Schulte released this statement following President Trump’s signing of the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order in Wisconsin:

“We are hopeful today’s announcement will do what FWD.us has long advocated; improve our high-skilled immigration system.  We should do so in a targeted manner by increasing the wage floor, treating super-dependent companies (50 employees and 50% or more of domestic workforce H-1B visas) differently and banning their ability to do third-party placement. Highly skilled immigrants create new American jobs, raise wages for native-born workers, and contribute enormously to growing our economy.  Finally, Congress should expand the number of H-1B visas offered while reforming the system to protect American workers.”

FWD.us, CFDA release new joint report; call for critical immigration policy reforms to drive innovation in fashion and create jobs for American workers

Posted by FWD.us on 04/10/2017

Today, FWD.us and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) held a joint press conference in New York City to release a new report about the impact of immigration policy on the United States’ fashion industry, and its role in creating American jobs. Speakers included CFDA Chairwoman and renowned fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, CFDA President and CEO Steven Kolb, FWD.us President Todd Schulte, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Fashion and tech leaders and elected officials highlighted critical policy changes that would aid the innovation economy, promote industry growth, and create opportunities for international designers and investors to come to the U.S. and create American jobs. They also highlighted reforms to address the legal status of the majority foreign-born workforce of seamstresses, tailors, and garment workers, many of whom are undocumented.

“I left Europe and arrived in New York with a baby in my belly and a suitcase full of little dresses made in Italy. With these dresses I lived an American dream,” said renowned fashion designer and CFDA Chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg. “Young people from all over the world come to America in search of those same opportunities, and young people with limitless talent and potential will continue building and innovating in our industry as long as we put in place immigration policies that allow the U.S. to remain a magnet for them.”

“The CFDA’s mission is to strengthen the influence and success of American designers in the global economy,” said CFDA President and CEO Steven Kolb. “In order to continue the U.S.’ success and influence in the fashion industry, we must recruit the best talent from all over the world. If the United States wants to lead the world in fashion innovation, we need immigration policies that embrace the talented foreigners who come here to build and grow.”

“For over a century, immigrants and their children have built world-renowned fashion houses here and created thousands of American jobs,” said FWD.us President Todd Schulte. “We need to reform our immigration laws to protect American workers while boosting our ability to bring in the best and brightest from around the world so we can continue driving the U.S.’ global leadership in fashion and multiple other industries.”

“New York is the fashion capital of the country and, indeed, the world.  Our fashion sector employs 180,000 people and generates $11 billion in wages every year. This industry depends on immigrants who bring their innovative designs and talents to New York City,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12). “Immigrants are part of what makes our fashion scene unique and keeps it thriving, whether we’re talking about designers who come to take advantage of New York’s creative milieu, the models who grace our runways or the garment workers who bring the designs to life. Making it more difficult for skilled foreign workers in the fashion industry to enter the United States will make it harder for the industry to survive and will do irreparable harm our city’s economy.”

“Immigration and industry have long been intertwined and in few places has that link been more apparent than in New York City’s fashion world. Protecting our immigrant communities contributes to the growth, creativity and uniqueness of our City’s fashion industry,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “As the report highlights, creating barriers for immigrants hurts our economy and weakens fashion businesses. It is essential to keep finding new ways to empower our immigrant communities and I applaud the Council of Fashion Designers of America and FWD.us for bringing attention to this pressing issue.”

Today, more than 900 fashion companies are headquartered in New York City, employing 180,000 people — roughly 6 percent of the city’s workforce — and generating $10.9 billion in total wages. Our broken immigration system is increasingly slowing the innovation fueling the fashion industry, particularly as fashion houses compete for designers, scientists, and researchers to develop groundbreaking new products like wearables and smart textiles. When talented immigrants come to the U.S. to work in fashion, they bring new business and creative ideas that ultimately create jobs for American workers in manufacturing, fashion merchandising, marketing, graphic design, sales, and advertising, among other areas.

The report released today by FWD.us and the CFDA outlines two key hurdles impacting the fashion industry: access and retention of top talent, and the difficulty and high cost of navigating the United States’ badly broken immigration system. The new report also makes several recommendations to remedy these concerns, including: reforming and expanding the H-1B and O-1 high-skilled visas, creating a startup visa so that foreign-born entrepreneurs can build companies and create American jobs here, and establishing a process for hardworking undocumented immigrants to earn legal status after successfully passing a background check.

Commonsense immigration reform that revamps the visa system, strengthens border security, and creates a path to legal status for the undocumented community would grow the United States’ economy by roughly 5% in GDP.

See photos from today’s event here:

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H-1B Application Period Closes Within Just Five Days for Fifth Consecutive Year

Posted on 04/07/2017

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United States reached its annual visa cap on petitions for high-skilled workers, just five days after the H-1B visa application window opened on April 7, 2017. There are 65,000 available visas in fiscal year 2018, and another 20,000 for applicants who hold advanced degrees. The arbitrary visa cap hurts U.S. economic growth and job creation for American workers.

FWD.us President Todd Schulte released the following statement:

“For the fifth consecutive year, the H-1B visa application window closed in just five days, showing that demand for talented high-skilled workers continues to dramatically outpace supply. The arbitrary cap means that talented individuals who would otherwise be helping to grow our economy are kept out of our country – and that the U.S. loses out on the creation of American jobs, rising wages, and economic growth. Each year, only around 30% of all applicants “win” the H-1B lottery, keeping thousands of the best and brightest high skilled immigrants from around the world out of our U.S. workforce. FWD.us continues to call on Congress to reform the H-1B visa to crack down on bad actors and to lift the arbitrary visa cap that is stifling wage and job growth for U.S. citizens.”