The Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition (GLMCC) is urging policymakers to consider place-based immigration policies as a path to economic recovery in response to new H-1B rules introduced this month by the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security. The new rules, which set higher prevailing wage rates and narrow the definition of specialty occupations, threaten to make the visa program nearly unworkable for employers seeking to fill key positions.
A federal placed-based visa program will help the region attract and retain talented workers and entrepreneurs, a top priority of the businesses represented by the GLMCC. The program would allow immigrants to compete on the open labor market in designated areas of the country experiencing consistent demographic decline, a weakened local economy, and a widening skills gap. It would also be contingent upon maintaining employment or starting a business, in contrast to the employer sponsorship model used for H-1B visas.
Research has shown that immigrants strengthen key industries such as healthcare and manufacturing; offset population decline; and start new businesses that create jobs, increase the tax base, and encourage spending that drives local growth—components critical to regional recovery. So while Great Lakes communities are facing potentially deeper and extended impacts from the COVID-19-induced recession, a place-based approach to immigration policy could offer relief by infusing talent in low-growth areas to help reverse demographic decline and revitalize local economies.
GCP serves as a leading member of the GLMCC. To learn more about the coalition’s place-based immigration proposal, click here.