U.S. industries struggle without immigration reform

While high-profile members of Congress continue to debate the costs and benefits of a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws, many industry leaders in the U.S. are trying to mitigate the consequences of Congress’s inaction. Farmers in Arizona and leaders in the technology sector on the West coast have experienced a few setbacks in recent years, but some experts believe changes to certain aspects of immigration law could lead to a new level of growth and productivity in both of those industries.

Agriculture is widely considered to be a pillar of Arizona’s economy. More than $9 billion flows into the state because of the agriculture industry, which fuels thousands of jobs and supports the infrastructure built on the efforts of hard workers. However, flawed immigration laws negatively affect the industry’s ability to develop a dependable, legal workforce. Undocumented immigrants who are trying to support their families are hounded by the fear of deportation, while thousands have already been stung by the unfair policies of the U.S. immigration system.

By overhauling current immigration laws, job creation in Arizona is expected to skyrocket, giving the state’s lagging economy a much-needed boost. According to analysts at the Regional Economic Models, Inc., merely increasing the availability of visas for temporary agricultural workers would create hundreds of new jobs. By 2020, workers in the state could receive an additional $55.5 million in wages through this one change to current immigration law.

The manufacturing and development of technology is another industry that can reap great benefits with just a few changes to the current immigration law. The U.S. currently only offers about 65,000 H1-B visas each year, with another 20,000 going to people who have advanced degrees from U.S. schools. These numbers are too low for companies like Microsoft, who recently opened up a large, new office in Vancouver, B.C., stating it had to consider non-U.S. locations to help fill immediate positions.