June 21, 2013

Reed and Whitehouse Hear from RI Business Leaders on Immigration Reform

Providence, RI – As the United States Senate continues debating legislation to overhaul our nation’s flawed immigration system, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse held a roundtable discussion to update Rhode Islanders on the status of the legislation. Whitehouse is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved the version of the bill now being debated by the full Senate.
At the roundtable, the Senators brought together Rhode Island business leaders to discuss how immigration reform could support economic growth in the state. The bill contains provisions that would help high-skilled workers from other countries obtain green cards to work for U.S. companies, and would help foreign-born entrepreneurs obtain visas to stay and grow their businesses here in America.
“We need to fix our broken immigration system to ensure everyone plays by the same rules.  The bipartisan bill working its way through the Senate recognizes the need to strengthen border security and strike a balance between protecting jobs for Americans and helping us remain competitive in the global economy.  It provides a tough but fair pathway to earned citizenship and boosts our ability to retain the bright and talented leaders of tomorrow.  Hard work and innovation are key to successful businesses and they’re also critical to passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill that strengthens our nation,” said Reed.
“It is long past time to fix our nation’s broken immigration system, and I was glad to hear from Rhode Island business leaders about this important issue,” said Whitehouse, who successfully added several provisions to the immigration bill to help Rhode Island businesses and protect American workers.  “Today’s roundtable participants stressed the importance of passing a strong reform bill to support their own job creation efforts in the state. As the Senate continues to debate this legislation, I will share their feedback with my colleagues in Washington.”
“As a Pakistani who went to Brown University and subsequently started up a technology company in Rhode Island, I am particularly excited about how the bill will make it easier for foreign-born individuals to start businesses and create jobs in the United States. Foreign entrepreneurs typically have to spend significant time and effort on visa applications and lawyers, time and effort they could be contributing towards growing their businesses and strengthening the American economy. Studies indicate that more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, but in recent years the growth of immigrant entrepreneurship has stagnated, threatening an already fragile economic recovery,” said Hamzah Ansari, Co-Founder of Accelereach.
“The immigration bill is a complex piece of legislation with multiple moving parts. It’s not a perfect solution, but it does take the necessary steps toward addressing an important issue that affects myriad industries, especially the hospitality and tourism industry. I am very pleased that Senators Reed and Whitehouse have been open and transparent during this important process, getting the necessary points of view from industry leaders to create unity moving forward,” said Dale Venturini, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association.
The full Senate is expected to hold a final vote on the bill before the July 4th holiday.

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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921