New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition
Winter, 2021-2022
News and Views
Pursuing Bipartisan and Evidence-Based Immigration Reform
The U.S. Doesn’t Have a Labor Shortage,
It Has an Immigration Shortfall
Guest Blog, Manu Smadja, CEO of MPOWER Financing
This past June, the U.S. reached a tipping point: the number of open jobs surpassed the number of people looking for work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Job Openings and Labor Turnover report, there were 10.1 million job openings, the highest level since record-keeping began in 2000, but only 8.7 million individuals looking for work. You’ve likely noticed “Help Wanted” signs posted around your neighborhood stores or your LinkedIn feed filled with notifications about new job openings.
Some of this labor shortage can be attributed to shifting demands and expectations from U.S. workers around wages, career trajectory, personal safety, or work-from-home flexibility in a post-pandemic world. Yet that’s only part of the story, as a broader demographic shift combined with unproductive immigration policies are also to blame.
The release of the U.S. 2020 Census reveals what economists have been projecting for years: Birth rates have declined to their lowest in generations while Baby Boomers retire in droves, creating gaps in the skilled job market that won’t be easy to fill.
US Chamber of Commerce CEO says country should double legal immigration to fix labor crisis
Immigrant business owners are the key to supercharging America’s economy
Immigration shortfall likely contributes to labor shortages in the U.S.
Slowing immigration worsens job shortages
A massive work permit backlog is threatening to put immigrants out of work
Jersey Shore businesses, facing shortage of workers, scramble to hire foreign university students under the J-1 visa program
Estimates show slowest growth on record for the nation’s population
The world’s population is set to decline for the first time in centuries
Biden and businesses agree on one thing: U.S. needs immigrant workers
More Immigration Is Inevitable, But Overcoming Its Challenges Isn’t
Immigration is an engine for reviving the middle class in midsized cities
New TechNet Report Shows High-Skilled Immigration Strengthens the American Economy
Immigration Provisions of
The America Competes Act
Each house of Congress is considering lengthy and complex bills aimed at bolstering the capacity of U.S. industries to compete in global markets.
The Senate bill, called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) passed with a surprisingly bipartisan 68-32 vote last June. The bill would provide a boost of $250 billion of investment in a range of emerging technologies and improve American competitiveness in dealing with China.
The House bill, called the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521), was approved last month, but it has several “game-changing” immigration provisions that may be of interest to our readers.
One provision would allow U.S. employers to hire international students who earn Ph.D.’s from American universities in STEM and health care fields. Such individuals could gain permanent residence without being subjected to existing per-country limits and backlogs.
Another provision would create a start-up “W” visa for immigrant entrepreneurs, which could be converted into permanent residence if the entrepreneur has created at least 10 qualified jobs. Here again, the “W” visa holder could advance to permanent residence without delay.
Whether these provisions will survive as negotiators try to hammer out a compromise between the two chambers remains to be seen. More information about these provisions may be found at this link.
New Study Reveals Impact of Immigration
in Passaic County
With 31.2 percent of its population born abroad, Passaic County has one of the largest immigrant populations of any county in New Jersey. The advantages of immigration to the regional economy were highlighted in a report recently released by the Passaic County Division of Economic Development and the Small Business Development Center at William Paterson University, with research support provided by the American Immigration Council, under its Gateways for Growth program.
One important finding is that immigration helped to stem the tide of population loss in the County. Without the arrival of new immigrants, the drop in the overall population over the last five years would have been 3.3 percent; instead it remained relatively stable.
Although immigrants make up 31.2 percent of the County’s population, they represented 40 percent of the employed population. Their contribution to so-called essential industries during the pandemic is remarkable. For example, almost three-quarters of all workers in food manufacturing and 53 percent in transportation and warehousing were immigrants. At the same time, immigrants make up close to half of all business owners in the County. As a whole, Immigrants contributed roughly one third, or $7.8 billion, to the county’s GDP in 2019.
As might be expected, immigrants are not distributed evenly throughout the county, but tend to concentrate in the cities of Passaic, Paterson and Clifton, where immigrant percentages hover around 40 percent. The two largest countries of origin for the County’s immigrants are the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
Tackling one of the most important and challenging immigration issues confronting our nation, i.e. how to manage the nation’s borders, the New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition has published a set of suggestions, shared in January with members of Congress and the Biden administration.
Recognizing that border management has been a preoccupation of both Republican and Democratic administrations and that it will likely remain a pressing issue for years to come, the Coalition set out to gather fresh ideas and new perspectives on the topic. Consulting with leading immigration experts, the Coalition produced a “10-10” document, i.e. ten observations about the situation at the border and ten suggestions for a more effective approach to the problem.
As noted in the statement, the Coalition expects that cross-border mobility, after shrinking during the pandemic, will likely increase in the years to come; that additional legal channels need to be established for both temporary and permanent migration in order to fill labor shortages in the U.S. and reduce illegal entries; that an overhaul of the asylum system to prevent abuse and to achieve greater efficiency in processing applications should be a high priority; and that international collaboration to control migrant flows could work to the benefit of both migrants and governments.
The Coalition emphasized that it is not wedded to a single point of view, or to a specific set of recommendations. Rather it wants to promote creative dialogue grounded in facts and leading to lasting solutions supported by members of both political parties.
According to Coalition Co-Founder Katherine Kish, Executive Director of Einstein’s Alley, “the ability of people of different ideological persuasions and political affiliations to work together on immigration matters is a tradition that we’d like to revive.” The Coalition hopes that its statement might help to reduce politicization of border issues and galvanize bipartisan work on border reform.
Reopening Doors to International Students and Scholars
Guest Blog, Elizabeth A. Gill, Director of International Employment and Immigration,
Montclair State University
International students and scholars are undeniably vital to the cultural and economic life of the United States. The Institute of International Education found that the United States hosted 914,095 international students and 85,538 scholars in the 2020-2021 academic year. In a separate analysis, NAFSA: Association of International Educators discovered that the students alone “contributed $28.4 billion and supported 306,308 jobs to the U.S. economy”—in a year abounding with consulate and embassy closures and remote or hybrid learning, with a 15% decrease in international students.
New Jersey hosted 19,039 of those international students, who contributed $61.71 million to the economy and supported 6,913 jobs, statistics emphasizing their great importance to our state and its businesses. With so much riding on international student and scholar contributions, the higher education community continues to hope that the White House will accelerate its progress toward improving the processes and prospects for immigration in the year 2022. For the time being, let us reflect on the immigration developments significant to higher education over the past year.
New Jersey Tourism Industry
Seeks to Strengthen BridgeUSA Programs
A bipartisan resolution calling on the federal government to prioritize the processing of BridgeUSA visas was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 2. The Summer Work Travel Program of BridgeUSA enables college students from other countries to participate in short-term cultural exchanges, with the opportunity to interact with Americans in temporary seasonal jobs. This program has been a vital source of seasonal labor for businesses on the Jersey Shore, especially because of the declining numbers of U.S.-born students willing to work during the summer, as well as their lack of availability to work the entire tourist season. In 2020 and 2021, many businesses on the Jersey Short had to shut down or curtail operations as a result of the shortage of BridgeUSA participants. The New Jersey Tourism Industry Association is advocating for expansion of the program and calling on members of the NJ Congressional Delegation to sign on to the resolution. Their call has been echoed by the NJ Business and Industry Association, which has also appealed to members of Congress to support the resolution.
New Jersey
Immigrant Entrepreneur
of the Year Awards:
Call for Nominations
The NJ Business Immigration Coalition welcomes nominations for its 9th annual Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year awards competition. Through the awards competition, the Coalition seeks to publicly recognize the vital but often unsung role that immigrants play in our state’s economy, both as innovators and job creators.
Our partner for this year’s competition will be the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. Winners will be announced at a special event organized by the Chamber later this year.
We confer awards in six categories: growth, advocacy, innovation, nonprofit entrepreneurship, rising star, and entrepreneur of the year. Detailed information about the various categories may be found at this link.
If you know of someone deserving of one of these awards, please take the time to submit a nomination form. Immigrants may also nominate themselves. Nominations must be submitted by April 30.
During the first year of the Biden Administration, there were 296 executive actions related to immigration, compared to only 96 for the entire four years of the Trump administration
Click here for more information
During the last year of record (2019), the two largest groups of legal immigrants to the State of New Jersey were Dominicans and Asian Indians. Together, they constituted one-third of all new immigrants that year.
Click here for more information
Although immigrants comprise 13.7% of the U.S. population, they have been awarded 44% of the U.S. Nobel Prizes in physics, 37% in chemistry and 33% in medicine, since the year 2000.
Click here for more information
GET INVOLVED: We want to hear from you!
  • Check out our policy platform here and if your company or organization (or you as an individual) agrees with our principles for immigration reform, sign up as a member of the coalition.
  • Share your thoughts on the immigration reform challenges facing the United States. How is your industry affected? What specific reform proposals are you championing? Write us at:
Welcome to New Members of the
NJ Business Immigration Coalition
Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey
Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce
The New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition,
c/o Einstein’s Alley, P.O. Box 175, Plainsboro NJ 08536,
Newsletter Editor: Nicholas V. Montalto