Legislation heading to Biden’s desk would authorize a federal study to understand and help remove systemic barriers to employment for immigrants
Washington, D.C. — Upwardly Global applauds the passage of the Bridging the Gap for New Americans Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and urges President Biden to sign the Act into law. This vital legislation would guide a new approach to national workforce development, eliminating barriers to employment for immigrant and refugee professionals.
“Upwardly Global has worked tirelessly to ensure the passage of the New Americans Act, as it would play a crucial role in expanding pathways to careers for immigrants and refugees arriving into the U.S.,” says Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO of Upwardly Global. “This legislation recognizes an invisible population and acknowledges that there are systemic barriers that stand in their way that the government should remove. The legislation is crucial to the continued aid of immigrant and refugee communities, and we urge President Biden to sign the Act into law as quickly as possible.”
The bill, which was supported in the Senate and House by bipartisan majorities, directs the U.S. Department of Labor to conduct an interagency study on factors that impact employment opportunities in the U.S. for work-eligible immigrants and refugees with international professional credentials.
Three years ago, Upwardly Global surfaced this issue and worked to educate legislators on its importance. Since then, we have worked with partner organizations, led by World Education Services and the IMPRINT coalition, to build broad based support. Over 200 organizations have signed letters urging Congress to support the legislation, and our own Upwardly Global Leadership Councils have joined with allies to meet with legislators across the country to educate them on the importance of this issue and bill.
The bill’s passage comes a year after the world saw an influx of global crises that caused millions to be displaced from their home countries. More than 80,000 Afghans have fled to the U.S. and more than 100,000 Ukrainians. Collectively, these populations compose educated and professional-level workers that could contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the U.S. economy if employment barriers are removed.
“As the U.S. workforce faces growing demands and employment gaps deepen in critical sectors, an estimated two million college-educated immigrants and refugees are unemployed or underemployed,” the letter read. “The stakes are considerable. This skill underutilization impacts the economy through forgone earnings and unrealized tax revenue; it deprives communities and employers of valuable training and experience; and it limits the economic mobility of immigrant and refugee workers.”
Upwardly Global is a national nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate employment barriers for immigrant and refugee professionals and advance the inclusion of their skills into the U.S. economy.