Business leaders have slammed President Barack Obama’s unilateral plan to halt the deportation process of millions of illegal immigrants and instead hand them work permits.
The leaders say that by circumventing Congress with his executive order, Obama has "undermined" the chances of a lasting immigration policy that helps American companies in the long term, according to The Hill
"We wish the president had tried a little harder to work with the incoming Congress to find a legislative solution to the immigration problem," says Jack Mozloom, spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
Business groups have been pushing for years to expand the visa program, allowing smart foreign graduates to take longer-term job in the United States, and Mozloom says that is only attainable through legislation.
Mozloom noted the chances of that happening now are a slim due to the "bad blood" between the president and the GOP, with the result that Obama has "blown up his relationship with the incoming Congress."
Calling the unilateral measures "politically unwise," Mozloom added, "There was a possibility of broader immigration reform with the incoming Congress, but he chose to do something else, which is unfortunate."
Obama said last week that he will make it "easier and faster" for highly skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to work in the U.S. "as so many business leaders have proposed."
But Jay Timmons, National Association of Manufacturers president, said, "Without reform, we will fall behind in an increasingly competitive global economy as other nations offer a more inviting environment for innovation."
And Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also told The Hill that Obama’s actions will not help efforts to lead the world in technological advances, which ultimately benefits American firms.
"Successfully competing for the world’s best talent and hardest workers will be indispensable to our efforts to grow the economy and expand jobs and incomes for all Americans," Donohue said.
Matt Sonnesyn, immigration director at the Business Roundtable, says that Obama’s executive order halting the deportations of parents of U.S. citizens will not help the business community because most of these people are low-skilled workers.
"To make economic gain from immigration reform, we have to welcome more people who are coming here to work and contribute to the American economy," Sonnesyn told The Hill.
On ABC’s "This Week,"
Obama on Sunday defended his order, saying it was important that he prioritize the deportation of criminals and recent arrivals, and spare those who have lived here illegally for at least five years and have children who are citizens.
"Why we would prefer a system in which they're in the shadows, potentially taking advantage of living here but not contributing?" Obama said.
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