A new report released on Monday by FWD.us and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) found that the United States’ badly broken immigration system, coupled with an increase in restrictionist policies, are slowing innovation in the American fashion industry.
The report found that the industry, which generates more than $250 billion in annual revenue and creates millions of jobs for Americans, relies on the skills and talents of immigrants from around the world. In particular, regional fashion hubs in New York, Missouri, Tennessee, California and Florida have experienced significant growth in recent years due to the economic and creative contributions of immigrants.
Key findings from the report show:
- The U.S. has a vibrant and robust fashion industry that employs nearly two million people across the country. The many contributions of immigrants have helped sustain and expand its growth.
- Of the companies surveyed, 85 percent believe international talent is important to the success of their business and helps the U.S. economy maintain a competitive advantage.
- More than six in 10 survey respondents indicated that uncertainty with the immigration system negatively impacted their ability to recruit foreign talent and international students.
- Anti-immigrant rhetoric and restriction policies are deterring international students from pursuing degrees at American universities, causing a seven percent decline in international student enrollment in 2017, compared to the previous year.
- Fully 89 percent of survey respondents agree that addition resources are needed to help educate employers are how to navigate the immigration system.
- 277,000 employees in wholesale and retail trade could benefit from the Dream Act, legislation that would create an earned pathway to citizenship for young Americans brought to this country as children.
Many iconic American fashion brands are led by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Unfortunately, recent policy proposals to cut immigration could drastically impede the ability of designers and other talented individuals to come to the U.S. and develop businesses here, slow innovation, hindering the creation of American jobs and hurting the U.S. economy overall.