The mayor of El Paso, Texas, joined a panel of business leaders and immigration experts at a recent discussion organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy at the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
On its website, the PNAE describes itself as a national coalition of mayors and business people that seeks to “raise awareness of the economic benefits of sensible immigration reform.”
At the El Paso discussion, a Cleveland immigration lawyer, Richard Herman, cited a UCLA study that showed legalizing the millions of undocumented residents currently in the United States would add $1.5 trillion to the national economy, the El Paso Times reported.
Herman also compared the United States unfavorably to Canada, according to the newspaper. He said the United States grants only about 5 percent of its annual green card allocation to highly skilled immigrants or entrepreneurs, while Canada grants 60 percent of its residency cards to these workers.
El Paso Mayor John Cook said the broken green card and worker visa system encourages illegal immigration, the Times reported. Jacob Cintron, CEO of Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, said the hospital relies on the expertise of foreign-born health care professionals.
The El Paso event took place on the same day as a roundtable discussion on immigration hosted by Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C. Experts on that panel also said lawmakers need to revamp the work visa system to encourage immigration of skilled workers, Bloomberg reported.