US Secretary of Labor: Immigration Reform Needed to Avoid Economic 'Catastrophe'
US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said Tuesday that immigration reform that will increase the number of workers in the US is needed to prevent an economic catastrophe bigger than a recession or inflation.
“We need a bipartisan fix here,” Walsh said. “I’ll tell you right now if we don’t solve immigration ... we’re talking about worrying about recessions, we’re talking about inflation. I think we’re going to have a bigger catastrophe if we don’t get more workers into our society and we do that by immigration," said Walsh.
Walsh's comments come at a time when the number of open jobs in the US recently hit an all-time high and workforce shortages continue to stunt economic growth and contribute to the increasing costs of goods and services including food and housing. With around 10.1 million open jobs and only 5.7 million Americans looking for work, there are simply not enough workers to get the jobs done.
“Every place I’ve gone in the country and talked to every major business, every small business, every single one of them is saying we need immigration reform. We need comprehensive immigration reform. They want to create a pathway for citizenship into our country, and they want to create better pathways for visas in our country," said Walsh.
These workforce shortages and their resulting inflationary effects have been exacerbated by a large decrease in legal immigration levels during the pandemic and a slow restart of legal immigration processing following the pandemic. Meanwhile, CBP recently announced that illegal border crossings hit 2.7 million for the 2022 fiscal year, a new record, and fentanyl continues to enter the US at high levels between and at ports of entry.
The need for bipartisan immigration reform to improve our border security and our legal workforce has never been greater. Although immigration is a politicized issue, the coming lame duck session provides the opportunity for lawmakers to put politics aside and pass solutions that will benefit the US economy, national security, and ultimately the American people.
Lawmakers should legislate a solution that improves border security, modernizes the legal immigration system to meet our economy's dynamic workforce needs, and creates a method for unauthorized immigrants who have lived in the US 5+ years and can pass background checks to earn legal status and work permits.