November 10, 2023
Columbia, SC—Next week over 220 South and North Carolinians will be in DC for a “Here to Work” summit. SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Frank Knapp Jr. will join the Carolina delegation and thousands more from across the county advocating for President Biden to take action to expand work permits for long-term immigrants who want, but have not been allowed, to fully participate in our economy due to their legal status.
“Almost every small business owner with employees will tell you that they simply cannot find the workers they need to meet consumer demand.” said Knapp who points to South Carolina’s historic low unemployment rate and having over 80,000 jobs not being filled.
“We are an aging population that a Brookings report has called an ‘unprecedented demographic stagnation’. We are simply not producing the young people we need for skilled and less-skilled jobs today and in the future,” said Knapp citing that the nation’s fertility rate has fallen dramatically since 2007.
Until 2017, immigration supplied American businesses with its increasing labor needs. The Trump Administration and the pandemic both played a role in legal immigration dropping from a high of 1.24 million new immigrants in 2016 to a low of 376,000 in 2021. The result has been a severe labor shortage that Congress has failed to address due to partisan fighting.
“If Congress won’t listen to the demand of businesses for more immigration, then the Biden Administration must use its legal authority to effectively use long-term and new immigrants already here who want to work but have been not given the legal status they need to be integrated into our economy,” said Knapp.
At the “Here to Work” Summit, options for how the Biden Administration can move forward on providing the work permits to immigrants to address the country’s severe labor shortage will be presented.
“Of particular interest is a proposal to give states the authority to issue work visas to immigrants already in the country, and hopefully to those in other countries who want to come here to work,” said Knapp. “Governors could opt in to the program and tell the federal government the number and type of labor they need for their businesses. A process would then be in place for states to recruit workers from the nation’s undocumented immigrants to fill those labor needs. Giving these immigrants legal work permits and having them fill labor needs identified by the states would grow our economy. It would also provide these immigrants and their families the security to stay in the US and build new lives, something they have longed for.”