At a Workforce and Border Security Solutions Roundtable organized by the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, business leaders emphasized the urgent need for immigration reform to alleviate the labor shortage and counteract an aging workforce. They called upon federal lawmakers to engage in bipartisan discussions to modernize U.S. immigration laws this year.
Research from the Brookings Institution using May 2022 data highlighted labor shortages in industries such as construction, retail, food service, and hospitality. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also noted ongoing challenges in retaining employees within the food service and hospitality sectors.
Glenn Hamer, CEO of the Texas Association of Business, expressed the shared support among over 200 chambers in Texas for sensible immigration reform. He referenced The Dignity Act of 2023, a bipartisan bill proposed by U.S. Representatives Maria Elvira Salazar and Veronica Escobar, which offers expanded legal migration pathways for undocumented immigrants already in the country in exchange for the gradual implementation of E-Verify.
Cindy Ramos-Davidson, CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged the importance of immigrants who chose to stay in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming valuable contributors to the nation’s workforce. She highlighted ongoing community discussions to ensure the safety and well-being of those seeking help and those who call the United States home.
The recent decrease in irregular migration following the end of Title 42 expulsions has rekindled the immigration reform debate. Migrant apprehensions have decreased by 50% since the transition from Title 42 to Title 8 processing, which includes measures such as a five-year ban for ineligible asylum seekers and potential penalties for repeat unauthorized crossers.
Jon Barela, CEO of Borderplex Alliance, emphasized the need to change the national perception of the U.S.-Mexico border as a liability. He advocated for a guest worker visa program as part of the immigration debate, addressing the aspirations of migrants who desire temporary work opportunities in the United States. Barela also emphasized the ongoing evaluation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to enhance labor migration and expand economic prospects across all three countries.