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April 23, 2013

Investors Call for Meaningful Immigration Reform
    by Robert Kropp

A coalition of investors associated with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility call for immigration reform that includes a pathway to legal status and protects the rights of immigrants in US workplaces.

SocialFunds.com -- The subject of immigration reform has become a perfect storm of sorts in recent days, as the publication of a compromise bill by the US Senate's so-called Gang of Eight coincided with the bombings at the Boston marathon by two foreign-born brothers.

The Gang of Eight's version of an immigration reform bill differs from that of President Obama in several respects, perhaps most significantly regarding the pace at which a path to legal status would be provided to millions of currently undocumented immigrants. The White House wants the process to begin immediately while the Senate version argues for delaying it until after border security is improved.

"This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me," Obama said. "But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform."

A version is yet to be offered by the House of Representatives, where it is likely that the voices of those opposed to creating a pathway to legal status will be contentious.

But the Partnership for a New American Economy, a coalition of mayors and business leaders, has announced its support for the Gang of Eight's proposed legislation. "Mayors and business leaders understand how vitally important it is to bring our broken immigration laws into the 21st century," said Partnership co-chair and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "One of the best things we can do for our economy is to pass sensible immigration reform that drives innovation and creates jobs—and the sooner Congress acts, the brighter our future will be."

Meanwhile, a coalition of investors representing almost $1 trillion in assets under management have called on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform that includes "the most controversial component of immigration reform—the need to provide an opportunity for currently undocumented immigrants to earn a pathway to legal status and citizenship in the United States."

The investors, many of which are members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), document a compelling business case for reform, noting research concluding that current policy has hampered the nation's global competitiveness. Immigrants with advanced degrees and temporary foreign workers have contributed to increased employment, the investors argue, and the presence of undocumented immigrants has not resulted in higher unemployment for US-born workers.

In keeping with ICCR's focus on social justice, the investors also point out that many immigrants have had to endure significant discrimination and violence, while current laws expose undocumented immigrants to employer violations of wage, safety, and discrimination laws.

"The absence of comprehensive immigration reform has had devastating consequences for generations of immigrants whose motivation for coming to the US is a better life for themselves and their families," the investors stated. "There is no disputing that our businesses need these workers to meet the diverse demands of a thriving economy, but they must be employed in accordance with legal US standards."

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