Einstein’s Alley is leading an effort along with the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group of mayors and other national leaders supporting immigration reform, to speak on necessary immigration reform on behalf of New Jersey’s high tech stakeholders.

A group supporting this effort is going to Washington to talk with the New Jersey Congressional delegation on October 29. We would like your support.

We need you to sign on to the letter (reprinted below). In order to sign, please reply to kkish@kennethg73.sg-host.com by October 25th with your name and your company/organization/institution’s name. Also please let me know whether you would be willing to have your signature appear on this letter (reprinted below) if it is used as an op ed in one or more New Jersey publications.

(October 15, 2013)

Dear New Jersey Congressional Delegation:

As leaders in the technology sector, we strongly recognize the need for immigration reform legislation. Our currently broken system is hurting the growth of high-tech/high-skill industries, as well as all sectors of our still struggling economy. As New Jersey business leaders, we urge you to act on immigration reform this year to secure and enhance American competitiveness in the global marketplace.

According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, American companies are going to face a shortfall of 230,000 qualified, advanced-degree workers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields in as few as five years.

Throughout the immigration reform debate, many reasonable proposals have been made – proposals that will have an immediate positive impact on our economy. Our sincere hope is that the New Jersey delegation elected to represent us in Washington, DC provides the leadership necessary to fix our broken immigration system.

To address the shortfall of qualified workers in STEM fields, we need to do more than just encourage more American students to enter these fields. We know this will not be enough. Rather than send qualified foreign-born advance-degree graduates of U.S. colleges and universities back home to compete against U.S. businesses, Congress should encourage these individuals to stay in the United States by offering them permanent resident status – the Steve Jobs staple-the-green-card-to-the-passport proposal. We can further buttress our competitive edge, by expanding the H-1B visa program, which makes available to U.S. businesses some of the world’s most highly-trained professionals in fields across the business sector. What’s more, a significant portion of H-1B filing fees fund education and training programs to enhance the skills of U.S. workers, particular in the technology fields.

In addition to bolstering our high-skill muscle, immigrants also help create jobs for native-born workers. In New Jersey, foreign-born individuals have created more than one in three new businesses in recent years, ranking New Jersey behind only California, New York, and Florida. These companies started by immigrants generate an annual business income of $6.2 billion in New Jersey. But there is so much more opportunity to grow the U.S. economy if we simply allow it to happen. Right now, our immigration system throws stumbling blocks in the way of foreign nationals who want to invest in America or who have the vision and know-how to start the next business that keeps the United States at the forefront of technology and innovation.

In New Jersey, immigrants or the children of immigrants founded many of our largest companies, including Honeywell, Merck, and Goya Foods. The innovation, willingness to take risks, and entrepreneurial spirit that has often defined the immigrant experience in America is something we must nurture, not inhibit. These traits are found among all strata of immigrants, including those working in low- and middle-skill jobs — an area of the economy where the absence of sufficient visas, both for temporary and permanent residence, has allowed illegality to flourish. We have an historic opportunity to create an immigration system for the 21st century, by facilitating and expanding visa options for immigrant entrepreneurs, investors and innovators; by creating sufficient visa opportunities for low and mid-skill immigrants, and by enabling those in the shadows of our communities to reach their full potential as productive members of our society.

The time for modernizing our immigration system is upon us. The American people want sensible reforms, our economy desperately needs sensible reforms, and bipartisan efforts in congress show the political will necessary to get the job done. We are asking each of you to join in the fight and pass reasonable immigration reforms as soon as possible.