Leaders: Speeding up work permits can fix labor shortage

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As U.S. businesses struggle to fill job vacancies, leaders across the country are calling on the White House to step in.

“We need the national government to stand up,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.

Democrats and Republicans say the federal government must cut red tape to allow more immigrants into the workforce.

“We have the jobs. We have the people. We just need authorization from Washington,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

Rebecca Shi, founding executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, represents 1,400 employers nationwide.

“We’re at a crisis,” she said.

According to Shi, speeding up the work permit process is the answer to the nation’s labor shortage.

“We’re hearing that the application for asylum and work permits are taking up to a year to four years,” Shi said.

Right now, there aren’t enough working Americans to fill all of the available jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports there are nearly 10 million job openings but only about 6 million Americans looking for work.

“It’s driving up the cost of food and housing for every American,” Shi said.

The Biden administration says it doesn’t have the authority to speed permits up.

“It’s established under immigration law and can only be changed by Congress. That’s how this process works,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary.

But Shi said the White House went around Congress to help thousands of Ukrainian and Venezuelan refugees.

“So if there’s a will, there’s a way,” Shi said.

Without action from Congress, the White House is promising to find a way forward.

Following a meeting with New York’s governor on Wednesday, the White House said it will launch a national campaign to get more eligible individuals signed up for work authorization.

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