South Carolinians for Responsible Immigration Reform (SCRIR) is a coalition of conservative business, industry, community and political leaders who seek to ensure that immigration reform is an important priority for candidates in the first-in-the-south Republican presidential primary in South Carolina. SCRIR will advocate three main pillars for the path to immigration reform:
- Securing our border
- Crafting a responsible and practical proposal for dealing with the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
- Expanding H-1B high-skilled visa programs and high-demand guest worker programs.
Securing our border
Securing the border is the first and most important step in stemming the flow of unregulated immigration and a necessary component of any reform package conservatives can get behind. The multi-faceted border issue, encompassing legal, security, employer, economic and social issues, is one that demands an aggressive, yet fiscally sound approach that prevents illegal crossings and allows for the legitimate and uninterrupted flow of trade vital to our economy. Nearly every Republican presidential candidate agrees that America MUST secure the border, and SCRIR does too. However, candidates rarely address the equally important question, “What comes next?” SCRIR will ask this question and hold the candidates accountable for providing realistic solutions.
Managing the current immigration situation
According to the American Action Forum, a conservative policy organization, the apprehension, detention, legal proceedings and transportation costs of forcibly removing the 11.5 million undocumented workers in America could reach as much as $619.4 billion. Conservatives know America is drowning in debt; it is important to recognize that forcible deportation would be fiscally destructive. Compounding the astronomical cost associated with forceful deportation is the negative effect deportation would have on the overall economy. According to the American Action Forum, the removal of 11.5 million undocumented immigrants would shrink America’s workforce by 6.4 percent. Consequently, in 20 years, America’s economy could contract by nearly 6 percent, or $1.6 trillion. SCRIR will ensure that the fiscal costs of deportation are a major factor in the 2016 South Carolina presidential primary.
Expanding high-skilled visas and reforming guest worker programs
The United States must reform its high-skilled visa and guest-worker programs if it is going to continue to lead in the 21st Century.
There is a shortage of highly skilled professionals in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields and yet highly qualified foreign graduates of American universities are unable to obtain work visas upon graduation. Instead of starting businesses and growing the domestic economy, they are forced to go home and compete against American businesses.
Nationwide, nearly half of all master's degrees (42 percent) and more than half of Ph.D.’s (53 percent) in engineering from U.S. universities were awarded to foreign national students. In South Carolina, foreign national students were awarded 51 percent of all engineering master’s degrees and 55 percent of engineering Ph.D.’s in 2014. (Compete America) It is counterproductive to train foreign scientists and engineers at the best schools in the world and then not allow them to become productive members of American society.
The demand for high-skill STEM workers in the global economy is greater than ever. According to multiple studies, the number of available STEM positions in America is far larger than the number of U.S. born college graduates with STEM degrees. While other countries fight to keep their indigenous STEM workers and attract foreign talent, American businesses are unable to find enough STEM workers to meet their demands. (Complete America) Current U.S. visa policy hurts domestic industry and the economy two-fold—it slows job growth and innovation across the economy while at the same time increasing foreign job growth and innovation.
The U.S. must also reform its guest worker visa programs. Agricultural exports and booming coastal tourism continue to be extremely important to South Carolina’s economy. The agriculture and tourism industries require vast numbers of high-demand laborers that are in short supply. South Carolina businesses should have the freedom to hire the staff necessary to succeed and grow without being