Politics & Policies, Report

A Point-Based Immigration System in US – Would it work ?

Evidence indicates that America’s separation of executive and legislative powers makes it unlikely that a point system could operate e ectively or in a manner similar to those in Canada or Australia, which have parliamentary systems of government and agencies with the authority to make rapid and unilateral changes to a point system when problems arise. That would not be possible under our laws and structure. Moreover, under a point system, as envisioned, U.S. employers would no longer decide which employees are most valued. Instead, admissions would be subject to government-designed criteria. Attempting to institute an immigration system based on awarding points for particular ages, degrees or language ability ignores the contributions of immigrants throughout American history, the diversity of today’s U.S. economy and the need for workers across the skill spectrum in sectors that include agriculture, construction and hospitality, as well as science and technology.

THE U.S. GOVERNMENT PROJECTS A NEED FOR WORKERS AT ALL SKILL LEVELS.

It is a mistake to assume the U.S. economy needs only workers with high levels of ed- ucation. Citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Center for Amer- ican Progress recently reported, “Noteworthy occupations from the list of the 30 largest-growing occupations include: cooks, construction laborers, janitors and oth- er cleaners, software developers, computer systems analysts, and maids and house- keeping cleaners. Each of these jobs is expected to add more than 100,000 jobs by 2024, and they already have larger shares of immigrants than the national average.”

TIMES ARE TOUGH FOR COMPANIES LOOKING FOR WORKERS IN SECTORS SUCH AS AGRICULTURE, MEAT PACKING AND CONSTRUCTION.

Today, employers of lower-skilled workers experience the worst of two worlds: 1) they cannot nd enough workers and 2) many of the workers they do nd are not in legal status and face (possible) deportation. The situation is particularly bad in agriculture. “Immigrant labor accounts for 51 percent of all dairy labor, and dairies that employ immigrant labor produce 79 percent of the U.S. milk supply,” according to economists at Texas A&M. “Eliminating immigrant labor would reduce the U.S. dairy herd by 2.1 million cows, milk production by 48.4 billion pounds and the number of farms by 7,011. Retail milk prices would increase by an estimated 90.4 percent.”

A LACK OF WORKERS IN AGRICULTURE, CONSTRUCTION AND OTHER SECTORS CAN LEAD TO JOB LOSS IN COMPLEMENTARY SECTORS.

When employers cannot find enough workers on the farm or to complete construction projects, it prevents job creation in other sectors. “Every job created in agriculture and forestry-related industries results in another 1.6 jobs in the Virginia economy,” according to the Uni- versity of Virginia, and further analysis would nd similar results in other states. An adequate supply of labor allows U.S. farmers to be competitive in global markets. “According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) model, each $1 billion of agricultural exports supported 6,800 American jobs in 2011,” reported the Joint Eco- nomic Committee. While higher consumer prices garner most of the press attention, the o shoring of production can be the most damaging economic impact when employers in agriculture and other sectors cannot nd enough workers. A study by Bryant University economist Edinaldo Tebaldi on the economic impact of the con- struction industry in Rhode Island (and which would show similar impacts in other states) determined that $10 million in construction output directly or indirectly sup- ports 146 jobs, and that “Each 100 jobs created in the construction industry support 83 jobs in other sectors.”

EMPLOYER SPONSORSHIP, NOT THE POINT SYSTEMS, HELP COMPANIES FIND WORKERS IN AUSTRALIA AND CANADA.

“The point system is not at all important for corporate immigration in Australia,” said Tim Denney, an attorney with Berry Appleman & Leiden in Sydney. “The points system comes into play when an individual seeks to migrate to Australia and does not have a business operating in Australia willing to sponsor him or her upfront for either a temporary work visa or permanent residence.” Canadian employers hire high-skilled foreign nationals primarily through temporary visas. Gaining permanent residence through the point system is usually closely tied to the applicant’s prior work experience in Canada.

THE CANADIAN POINT SYSTEM IS NOT HELPFUL FOR SPONSORING LOWER-SKILLED WORKERS.

“Virtually all of the immigration streams are focused on highly skilled and educated immigrants,” according to Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). “There is nothing wrong with that in general, but it starts to break down when the needs of Canadian employers is often in the low or semi-skilled occupational categories.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at The impact of a point-based immigration system on agriculture and other business sectors

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