Biden asks US Congress to update immigration system amidst labour crisis

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The US Biden administration has reportedly asked Congress to update the country’s ‘woefully outdated’ immigration system, the White House said Monday (August 28).

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A statement released by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre read, “As we have said many times before, this is an outdated immigration system. We’ve asked the Congress to update our woefully outdated immigration system.” 

“We’ve been very clear on that, including, the temporary visa programmes that haven’t been updated in more than two decades,” it added.

Current visa regime

She also cited current visa regulations in the US to make a strong case for the need to reform the country’s visa regime.

As per the current regulations, workers having certain temporary visas just have 60 days to get a new job, seek a new visa classification or make preparations to leave the country altogether.

Also read: Indians seeking American visa appointments can now go to US embassies abroad

“So, the Congress needs to do their job and pass legislation, updating our immigration laws to reflect the needs of where we are, where we are currently in this 21st century economy,” Jean-Pierre said.

She further claimed that President Joe Biden was very serious about the issue from the very first day of the administration. However, the reforms were yet to be introduced even as the Biden administration nears the completion of three years in service.

Immigrants in US workforce

The proportion of the immigrants in US workforce is continuously growing. In May, the percentage of US workers originating from foreign countries reached a record high of 18.7 per cent, a trend that has been consistently rising since 2010.

There is a considerable number of vacant positions that businesses need to fill. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of June, there were 3.6 million more job openings than available unemployed workers to fill them. 

Watch: India opposes controversial US visa policy

Immigration has played a crucial role in bridging this gap recently and is anticipated to further narrow it in the upcoming months. An analysis by Jan Hatzius, the chief economist at Goldman Sachs, forecasts that around 500,000 immigrants will become part of the workforce within the next three quarters, as revealed in a publication on Monday.

Labour crisis in US

Given that there are 5.8 million unemployed workers in the US, some economists suggest that not all of these positions can be filled solely by individuals currently residing in the country.

Although the number of open positions in June exceeded 9 million, it is a decrease from the peak of 12 million observed in March 2022. Nevertheless, it remains one of the highest counts of job openings since before 2000.

David J. Bier, the associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, pointed out, “By leaving these jobs unfilled, we are essentially forgoing approximately $1 trillion in annual production.” This underscores the economic impact of the vacancies.

 

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