Immigration is more than border security

Business owners are taking notes on how immigration reform will impact the economy and jobs

When it comes to immigration reform, Republican candidates for president love to talk about border security. But there is a frustrating lack of thoughtful ideas and detailed plans to actually fix the larger immigration problem.

As the president of the Small Business and Small Industry Association of New Hampshire, I can assure you this is an important issue affecting the New Hampshire economy. The choices made by our nation’s leaders regarding immigration reform have a direct economic impact on businesses in New Hampshire. There is a lot at stake in the upcoming elections and we have to get it right.

Republicans agree that policing our borders is a matter of national security, and I am encouraged to hear so many candidates support improved border security. As an international border state, border security is an especially important issue in New Hampshire. Therefore, I am asking every candidate to lay out detailed border security plans that include costs and timelines.

There will be differences in each candidate’s approach, and I think voters deserve to know what those differences are.

Republican candidates need to go beyond border security when addressing voters here in New Hampshire. Granite State business owners seek to attract and retain the best talent to compete in today’s global economy. Workers in some industries are in short supply, so that can mean an international job search. The trouble is there are strict limits on H1-B work visas that allow local companies to recruit international candidates to live and work in New Hampshire. This needs to change.

Our businesses already recruit workers from around the world, but they aren’t able to hire enough to meet their demand. Reforming visa programs will simply give our businesses access to the highly educated workers they need to succeed.

I ask every presidential candidate to provide a detailed plan for reforming the H1-B visa program as part of their larger plans for fixing our broken immigration system.

Securing the border and allowing our businesses to hire the staff they need are no-brainers. The tougher task is determining what to do about the 11.5 million immigrants already living illegally in the United States today. There are no easy solutions, but it is important that our leaders solve this issue without harming our economy.

On this point, there is vast disagreement among candidates seeking the presidency in 2016. Some support a path to citizenship; others want to create a new legal status that allows immigrants to stay but requires them to “go to the back of the line” for citizenship. Still others want to deport every immigrant here illegally no matter the circumstances.

I favor the approach recently offered by Granite Staters for Common Sense Immigration Reform: show us the fine print. Every reform proposal will impact the economy and homeland security in different ways. If voters are going to make an informed decision about immigration reform, they need specific details.

Immigration reform has been stuck in the mud for far too long. Let’s start getting some details so we can resolve this challenge once and for all.

Robert Clegg is president of the New Hampshire Small Business and Small Industry Association and a member of Granite Staters for Common Sense Immigration Reform.

Categories: Opinion