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The Issue

NRF supports practical, comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the needs of both employers and today’s transient workforce, particularly when businesses seek to hire highly skilled workers whose talents are a commodity in the global economy. The current immigration system is broken, unworkable and in desperate need of reform. In the most recent development, NRF supports renewal of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program in order to avoid disruption of workplaces if employees who are participants in the program were to be deported.

Why it Matters to Retailers

Many aspects of immigration reform would affect retailers, particularly proposed new requirements regulating how employers verify the legal status of employees. Retailers support a verification program that is limited to new hires, keeps penalties appropriate to the violation, preempts state and local laws, and provides employers with protection against lawsuits. Retailers also need a workable program for obtaining visas for guest workers, reform of the H1B visa system for high-tech workers, and a mechanism to provide earned legalization for undocumented workers already in the country.

NRF Advocates for Immigration Reform

NRF has called on Congress to pass “practical, comprehensive” immigration reform that is “both agile and responsive.” Increasing the number of visas available for guest workers and high-tech workers while protecting employers from burdensome enforcement requirements are top priorities for retailers.

NRF is a member of the Coalition for the American Dream, which supports renewal of the DACA program that allows children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents to remain. Many of those children are now adults employed by retailers.

In a January letter to Congress, NRF and more than 100 other members of the coalition representing a wide range of industries told lawmakers that termination of the program “is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country.” Failure to renew DACA “will lead to businesses losing valuable talent, cause disruptions in the workforce and will result in significant costs.” The letter said economists have estimated the impact to gross domestic product at $215 billion.

NRF also wants Congress to ensure that improvements in processing travel visas for travelers from countries like China, India and Brazil are maintained.