Rejecting immigrant contributions distracts from real work of recovery

Rejecting immigrant contributions distracts from real work of recovery

Earlier this week, the White House announced that it will suspend several immigrant visa categories, including Diversity Visas and several family-based visas, and the Department of Homeland Security released a new rule that puts work permits out of reach for asylum seekers. These two announcements distract us from the real conversation that we as a country must be having: How can we prepare for the next surge of the pandemic and what must we do to recover and rebuild our economy.

Scapegoating immigrants and asylum seekers will not resolve any of this. To the contrary, doing so only sows division and misplaces anger. What will move us forward is investing in our communities and embracing their immense ingenuity and dedication as we fight the virus and reopen our economy.  What we need is a massive, sustained effort to support skills building that aligns our workforce with the jobs that we need.

The pandemic has demonstrated how deeply we depend on each other. We would be short-sighted to overlook contributions from immigrants and refugees, including asylees, and foolish to underestimate their potential and vital role in a recovery that will take all the resilience, and innovation that we can muster.

The America we are working for does not believe in zero sum, that some belong at the expense of others. The best America will be built through the collective strength of all of us. 

Since our founding, Upwardly Global has supported more than 7,000 college-educated immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals in rebuilding careers in high-impact, high-demand industries. More than half work in high-demand STEM fields; others have been involved in frontline COVID-19 recovery efforts, caring for patients as physicians and nurses, enlisting as reserve medical corps volunteers in states with high needs, assisting the government in tracking and fighting the disease, and more. Our alumni are corporate, HR, and IT leaders, supporting their fellow Americans during this difficult time and always. 

The suspension of visas comes on the heels of another issue that has an immediate impact on our Upwardly Global community: the targeting of individuals legally seeking asylum in the U.S. and extending the issuance of work permits from 150 to 365 days. This is a humanitarian issue and a threat to values we hold dear.

America has a cherished history of extending refuge to those seeking safety from persecution and embracing the talents of those arriving at our shores. Many asylum seekers spend personal savings to escape persecution and arrive in the United States, and struggle to afford basic food and shelter with what remains. Extending the wait time to work denies the most vulnerable the means to self-sufficiency and prolongs unnecessary suffering.

Upwardly Global and all of us have an important role to play in changing this zero-sum narrative and moving us forward.

We are calling on businesses, thought leaders, immigrants and refugees and all community partners and friends to join together to translate the call to build a more inclusive America into real and concrete action. 

Join us on July 17 at 4pm EST for a conversation about a groundbreaking conversation we have started about the path to economic recovery and workforce integration for all. More information about this work and to RSVP, click here.

We are committed to keeping our community informed. Please consult these links and resources. 

  • If you have questions about how recent policy changes may affect you or your family members, consult legal counsel in your community. Here is a directory of trusted partners that provide pro-bono legal services. 
  • Access Upwardly Global’s “Invest in Inclusion” policy platform is here.
  • Read Upwardly Global’s public comment, submitted to the Federal Registry in December 2019, about the proposed 365-day waiting period for asylum seekers to receive work authorization here
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