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Michael R. Bloomberg

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We Cannot Sit Out the Race for Global Talent

Posted: 05/22/2013 11:01 am

New York City would not have become a global economic capital if we had not also been a global immigration capital.

Ellis Island was historically the gateway for many of our nation's newest arrivals who came here to find opportunity -- and then worked hard, started businesses, and saved enough money to give their children a better life.

Today, that story continues. Nearly 40 percent of New Yorkers are immigrants, and they play a vital role in driving our economy and creating jobs. In fact, 48 percent of all businesses in New York City are owned by immigrants. But our companies -- like companies around the country -- are having trouble hiring the workforce they need to compete in the global marketplace.

Our federal immigration system is broken, and until we fix it, our economy will continue to suffer and other countries will continue to gain jobs at our expense. For instance, right now we welcome the best and brightest students to study at our universities -- where we often subsidize and support them -- and then, after they have earned their degrees, we send them packing. Meanwhile, our competitors around the world line up to offer them jobs. These students are the innovators of tomorrow -- and we are losing them to our competitors.

Likewise, we want entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to start their companies here in America, creating jobs for American workers. More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants, and immigrant-owned businesses generate more than $775 billion in annual revenue. But there is no visa for immigrant entrepreneurs to come here and launch their companies.

If America is going to lead the global economy, we cannot sit out the race for global talent. Companies in sectors from agriculture to aerospace, hospitality to high tech, and media to manufacturing all require an immigration system based on today's modern economy. But our immigration laws haven't been significantly updated since the 1960s.

Business leaders, mayors, and Americans across the country understand how important this issue is to our future -- and finally Washington is getting the message. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been working together on a reform plan, but it won't pass unless all of us make our voices heard.

Today, the bipartisan group of more than 500 mayors and CEOs who make up the Partnership for a New American Economy are teaming up with Organizing for Action and Republicans for Immigration Reform to kick off the largest-ever virtual march on Washington to support bipartisan reform. Along with our supporters at Huffington Post and leaders from politics, business, tech, media, sports, and entertainment, we are going to harness the power of modern-day technology to urge our elected officials to back smart immigration legislation -- and, in turn, keep America's economy strong.

I invite you to join us at www.MarchForInnovation.com. We're closer than ever before to achieving meaningful reform.

Michael R. Bloomberg, an independent, is the mayor of New York City.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The Partnership for a New American Economy, in conjunction with the March for Innovation, a virtual march taking place May 22-23 across a number of social-media platforms designed to call attention to the immigration-reform bill now before Congress. One of those platforms will be HuffPost Live. For more information on the march, click here.

 

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