Reps. Jason Crow (CO-06) and John Katko (R-NY-24) passed their bipartisan legislation on Sept. 20, to help eliminate barriers to employment facing immigrants and refugees across the country through the House of Representatives. The Bridging the Gap for New Americans Act passed the Senate earlier this summer, and will now head to President Biden’s desk for signature.
“I represent the most diverse district in Colorado and we know that diversity is our strength.”
Congressman Jason Crow
For many reasons, including language barriers, credential recognition difficulties, and lack of professional networks and assistance, foreign-educated immigrants and refugees with professional degrees are often unemployed or underemployed. This is commonly referred to as “brain waste,” and can cost states like Colorado billions of dollars per year in lost individual earnings and tax revenue. The legislation takes the first step to address the problem by directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to conduct an interagency study on factors that impact U.S. employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees with professional credentials from other countries.
“I represent the most diverse district in Colorado and we know that diversity is our strength. Many of our immigrant and refugee neighbors have skills and professional credentials they can’t use because of regulatory hurdles. These hurdles– whether language barriers, difficulty in recognizing credentials, or a lack of professional networks – prevent many from making a good living for their families, contributing fully to our economy, and reaching their full potential,” Congressman Crow said today during a floor speech.
“The unemployment and underemployment of these folks is a missed opportunity for our country, and I thank Senator Klobuchar and Congressman Katko for their diligence as we worked together in this effort,” he continued.
In 2016, researchers at the Migration Policy Institute found that nearly 2 million immigrants with college degrees in the U.S. were relegated to low-wage jobs or were unable to find work. This is particularly relevant in the health care sector. In 2020, the Migration Policy Institute estimated that more than a third of the 11,000 immigrants in Colorado with health-related undergraduate degrees were either unemployed or working low-wage jobs that do not match their skill set.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2019, nearly 10 percent of Colorado’s population was born outside of the U.S, more than 546,000 individuals.
Reps. Crow and Katko passed this legislation through the House as the Improving Opportunities for New Americans Act. It was later renamed in the Senate.
Click here to download the full video of Rep. Crow’s floor speech.
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