The Way Forward on Migration – February 14, 2017



“The definition of mobility is changing as it includes people moving to where the jobs are (migration) as well as jobs moving to where the people live (outsourcing, shared service centers, among others) and more and more tasks are moving (via digital intermediation) to people everywhere…These specific situations have arisen in the past, but the trend is growing and increasing in complexity…It will be important to reflect on the adequacy of existing tools provided by both national and international private law to anticipate future challenges…”  IOE Brief, “Understanding the Future of Work,” p. 38-39. 

This challenge – to align government policies with the realities of global business operations – is one that CFGI has been tackling for forty-five years.  We know better than anyone the challenges of creating migration policies that are efficient, predictable and flexible enough to respond to our fast-evolving global economy.  Our principles for reform in the United States and at the Global Forum on Migration and Development recognize the need to empower employers to efficiently hire and relocate talent as necessary to innovate and meet their business objectives while providing fair and equal opportunities for all workers. 

CFGI has long supported fees on H-1B visas that are used for scholarships and training for U.S. workers; and, over the past year, I have been working with our strategic affiliate, SHRM, to catalog and promote the many initiatives taking place within SHRM’s network of over 500 state and local chapters to close the skills gap and prepare all Americans for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

I was fortunate to spend the past several days with SHRM’s state workforce readiness directors where we shared the great work they are already doing and brainstormed ideas for doing even more over the next year.  A few of the many great initiatives include:

  • Helping HR professionals understand how skills learned in the military translate to the civilian workplace so that they can more successfully recruit and integrate veterans;
  • Working with high school students on soft skills, resume writing and interviewing techniques;
  • Creating flexible work environments to retain ageing workers;
  • Providing opportunities for the formerly incarcerated to enter the workplace;
  • Promoting apprenticeships in both blue and white collar occupations;
  • And much, much more.

Several people asked me how my work with immigration fit with these efforts to hire Americans.  I see them as pieces of the same puzzle:  how to ensure that employers have the ability to get the right talent, in the right place, at the right time because, as the IOE report so eloquently shows, we cannot stop the changing nature of work but we can try to get ahead of it.

This brings me to President Trump’s draft executive order on employment-based immigration.  I don’t disagree that our employment-based immigration regulations which haven’t been significantly updated in a quarter-century are ripe for review and revision.  I also don’t disagree that they should serve our national interests.   In fact, CFGI has given him a list of some of the areas where efficiencies could be achieved and money could be saved that could then be redirected to other priorities. 

I am concerned, however, that the order will be implemented without adequate consideration of the realities of the new world of work or consultation with the stakeholders who have a holistic view of our place in the global economy. It has been reported that some employers are already considering relocating operations to other countries with more predictable policies.  Let’s hope we don’t squander this opportunity to create immigration policies which advance a 21st Century Workplace that is Fair, Innovative and Competitive.



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