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Building a Bipartisan Consensus and Rebuilding Communities: A Job Creation Bill for America's Hardest Hit Areas

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I can think of few issues that have led to more heated rhetoric and emotions than immigration. Much of the recent focus has rightly been on fixing our broken immigration system and what to do about the undocumented population that has been living and working in the United States, in many cases for years. These are important issues, and I am committed to finding humane solutions in keeping with our tradition as a nation of immigrants.

However, I also know that immigration policy can be a tool to spur new foreign investment, business development and job creation in the United States. So, I have worked with my Republican colleague on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah, to introduce H.R. 6210, the American Investment and Job Creation Act of 2012. This bill would amend our immigration laws to prioritize existing employment-based green cards for entrepreneurs who start new businesses in the United States and create jobs for American workers, particularly in economically troubled areas, such as Detroit.

Currently, our immigration system provides green cards to those who fill jobs in the American economy, but not to those who create jobs. And our laws provide only temporary visas, such as E-2 "treaty investor visas," for foreign entrepreneurs. This makes no sense. The lack of a path to permanent residency deters many entrepreneurs from helping to revitalize our economy and lowering the unemployment rate. Studies have shown that immigrants were key founders of 25% of all engineering and technology startups in the United States from 1995 to 2005. These are businesses and jobs we need here in Michigan.

The American Investment and Job Creation Act would address this by making existing employment-based green cards available to those who establish new businesses and create and sustain jobs for American workers. It will specifically help cities like Detroit that have been especially affected by the economic recession by increasing employment opportunities for American workers and beginning to reverse decades of population decline.

This is a common-sense bill that refocuses our immigration laws so that they better serve the needs of our country and its citizens. Rep. Chaffetz and I are pleased to have support from various business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Venture Capital Association, the National Small Business Association and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The bipartisan support for this bill shows that there are places where we can work across the aisle with the goal of achieving incremental, but important, results. Much work needs to be done to repair our broken immigration system, and we must continue to rebuild urban and rural areas devastated by the financial meltdown and the subsequent recession. The American Investment and Job Creation Act is a step forward, and it is an immigration bill that people from all sides should be able to support.