Open Letter to President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Members of Congress:
New York is a great world city, thanks in large part to the steady stream of immigrants who make up almost 40% of our current population, own more than a third of our small businesses, and keep our diverse neighborhoods thriving. Unfortunately, restrictive U.S. immigration policies have reduced the net flow of global talent into our city by 32% in the last decade and forced many foreign-born New Yorkers to either leave or live in the shadows.
Continued delays on comprehensive immigration reform will have dire economic consequences.
Right now, there is an opportunity to fix our nation's broken immigration system if you, our leaders in Washington D.C., can reach agreement on a fair and balanced approach to reform. We are convinced that this will benefit America's workers and employers alike and have immediate and substantial economic benefits for our entire country.
Business and labor certainly do not agree on every issue, but we are united in urging you to reach agreement on comprehensive immigration reform, including the following provisions:
· A broad pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who already reside in our country, so long as they have been responsible and contributing members of their community.
· Talented, young "dreamers"—aspiring citizens who were brought here as children—should have all the educational opportunities and benefits enjoyed by other young Americans.
· A flexible system of allocating work visas and green cards on the basis of a regular assessment of labor market demands.
· Allowance for foreign students to stay in the U.S. when they earn advanced degrees in subjects where the U.S. has a skills shortage.
Jobs in science, technology, engineering and math ("STEM" fields) are growing three times faster than other jobs in our economy, and we need to tap global labor pools to fill them. Other countries are attracting great entrepreneurs who build successful companies and create jobs through their aggressive immigration policies—the type of talent that the U.S. once welcomed but now turns away.
Employers and organized labor were once on different sides of these issues, but we have come to understand that to grow jobs at home, we need to welcome job creators and workers from all over the world.
Leaders in Washington, D.C. promised action on immigration reform after the last Presidential election, but a year has gone by and it never happened. It is inexcusable to move this issue into the 2014 election year, when politics will again intrude on the country's best interests. We urge you to enact practical and humane immigration reforms now.
Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW)
Candace K. Beinecke, Chair, First Eagle Fund & Chair, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
Philippe P. Dauman, President and CEO, Viacom Inc.
Laurence D. Fink, Chairman & CEO, BlackRock, Inc.
Alan H. Fishman, Chairman, Ladder Capital Finance LLC
George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU
George Miranda, President, Teamster Joint Council 16
Michael Mulgrew, President, United Federation of Teachers
Harry Nespoli, Chairman, Municipal Labor Committee; President, Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association
Steven Roth, Chairman, Vornado Realty Trust
Kevin Ryan, Chairman & Founder, Gilt Groupe
Jerry I. Speyer, Chairman & Co-CEO, Tishman Speyer
Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Chairman and CEO, Boston Properties