The U.S. is committing “national suicide” when it turns away skilled workers just because of their immigration status, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a speech Wednesday before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
“The American Dream cannot survive if we tell the dreamers to go elsewhere,” said Bloomberg, a staunch supporter of immigration reform, including increasing green cards for highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs.
The mayor’s pitch to expand immigration efforts was echoed by the pro-business Chamber: President Tom Donohue said skilled immigrants have the entrepreneurial inclination to spur the economy.
“If we don’t keep the skilled people in this country after they are educated in our universities and our institutions, companies have a simple choice: If we can’t get them here and they go somewhere else, we send the work to where they are,” Donohue said.
Despite the divide over immigration between Democrats and Republicans, Bloomberg said permitting skilled immigrant workers in the country – as well as graduate students – can be a middle ground for both sides.
“America no longer is the inevitable crossroads for enterprise and innovation,” Bloomberg said, adding that “the United States simply has to compete like never before for talent.”