Upwardly Global Celebrates President Biden’s Executive Orders on AI, Urges Action To Address Algorithmic Discrimination Against Immigrant and Refugee Professionals Seeking Work in the U.S.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, President Biden issued a series of executive orders designed to establish new standards for AI safety and security, protect Americans’ privacy, advance equity and civil rights, stand up for consumers and workers, promote innovation and competition, and advance American leadership around the world.

In reaction to these executive orders, Jina Krause-Vilmar, CEO and President of Upwardly Global — the nation’s leading national nonprofit working to dismantle employment barriers for immigrants, refugees, and asylees with international credentials — issued the following statement: 

“We welcome President Biden’s executive actions on artificial intelligence, specifically as they are focused on protecting workers and job seekers from discrimination that is too often baked into the system.  

“Let’s be clear. Although emerging AI technologies have potential, they have an inconsistent track record in the field of career guidance. This inconsistency is especially pronounced for immigrants, refugees, and asylees entering the U.S. workforce, as conventional tech solutions for career services fail to meet the unique needs of these populations. As our report points out, these technologies lack cultural competence, fail to adequately recognize skills, demonstrate bias in hiring, and are too expensive.

“The consequences of this mismatch carry significant implications for the over two million immigrants, refugees, and asylees who come to the U.S. with professional-level education and experience but find they must work low-wage jobs to survive. Too often, these jobs are fundamentally misaligned with their skills and abilities, leading to financial struggles that affect not only their families but also their broader communities.

“These outcomes are detrimental to immigrant communities and may also lead to an annual economic loss of up to $10 billion in unrealized tax receipts for the United States, which is currently grappling with a historic labor shortage. If we could fill labor gaps with this untapped talent, we could alleviate the strain on the labor market, boost economic productivity, and ultimately promote greater prosperity for all.

“We urge the Biden administration to use the authority created under these executive orders to also address algorithm discrimination against immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals seeking jobs in the United States.”

Last month, Upwardly Global released a new report titled AI For Impact: How To Thoughtfully Leverage Technology To Deliver on Mission examining the impact of the adoption of AI technologies on immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals seeking work in the United States, specifically by testing a career navigation AI tool to learn whether it could accurately analyze the work and education experiences of this population. 


Upwardly Global’s report warns of “brain waste” — the nonrecognition of the skills and qualifications acquired by a refugee or immigrant professional outside of the U.S., which prevents them from finding skill-aligned work. There are currently more than 2.3 million work-authorized immigrants, refugees, and asylees with professional experience and international degrees unemployed or underemployed in the U.S. and more than 9.6 million professional jobs in the country going unfilled. 

Key facts identified in the report include: 

  • Over 50% of 1,000 major companies surveyed are primarily using AI chatbots — like ChatGPT — to screen resumes and potential employees (source).
  • Around 98% of essays written by non-English speakers, or new English speakers, were misidentified as being written by AI by the AI-powered career navigation tool Upwardly Global tested. In contrast, the same tool misidentified only 10% of essays written by native English speakers as being AI-generated (source).
  • Upwardly Global found that 35% of education credentials and 20% of work experience credentials from immigrant or refugee job applicants were misidentified by the AI tool.
  • College-educated immigrants employed in survival jobs not matched to their professional training or experiences missed out on more than $39 billion in wages, resulting in federal, state, and local governments losing out on more than $10 billion in unrealized tax receipts annually (source). 

Upwardly Global has worked at the intersection of immigrant inclusion and workforce development for over two decades, supporting immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals in rebuilding their lives and careers in the U.S. and unlocking their vital contributions to our workforce and economy. To date, they have supported nearly 10,000 newcomers in their transition from underemployment into quality jobs with an average starting salary of $65,000. Their efforts have added more than $50 million to local economies each year.

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About Upwardly Global

Upwardly Global’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for low-income immigrant and refugee professionals and to advance their inclusion in the U.S. economy. Upwardly Global is the first and longest-serving national organization that helps these individuals restart their careers and bring their skills and perspectives into the U.S. workforce. 

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