An overwhelming majority of business executives have put their support behind immigration reform, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey. Many of the participants agreed that individuals who have the right sets of skills in science and technology-based industries should be put on the path to U.S. citizenship based on merits.
The survey found that 88 percent of chief financial officers at more than 500 U.S. companies favored the switch from a lottery-based immigration system; however, the consensus dwindles when talking about immigrants who have entered the country illegally or are not skilled in high-tech industries.
Just above 80 percent of CFOs believe that foreign-born undergraduate students in STEM fields should have access to H1-B work visas, and 78 percent say these individuals should have streamlined access to green cards.
However, much of the debate begins with low-skilled workers who are considered to be equally important to the farming and agricultural industries. MoneyWatch reported anonymous responses to the survey, one of which noted the importance of workers in the Midwest for manufacturing and construction.
Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce in South Carolina, told ABC News that without a comprehensive immigration reform, businesses in the state will not be able to grow. State Senator Lindsey Graham has decided to join the bipartisan group of lawmakers crafting a proposal.
“Lindsey Graham is a great leader on this issue,” Jeremy Robbins, director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, told ABC News. “The way the media and other folks often talk about this, they talk about the costs of immigration, not the benefits of it. We have to give voice about the arguments on how this will help the economy.”