Immigration reform needs to balance national security issues with access to qualified employees to offset an expected labor shortage in the years ahead, small-business owners and advocates told a congressional hearing on Thursday.
Employers from a variety of sectors urged lawmakers to focus immigration reform efforts on matching foreign workers with businesses that require skilled workers.
They also described current obstacles to hiring immigrant workers, including a short supply of work visas and liability issues related to verifying an employee's legal status.
"As we consider immigration reform, entrepreneurs must have a seat at the table to ensure they can innovate and expand," Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, said in a statement.
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, as many as 18.9 million new jobs will be created by 2014, with only 3 million Americans to fill them.