Immigration

Immigrants helped build America’s manufacturing industry, and immigration reform is essential to our competitiveness worldwide. We need a system that provides certainty for our businesses and dedicated employees, ensures national security, offers compassion and is consistent with our values and our history as a nation of immigrants.

Policy and Legal

State of Manufacturing: Strong, But Not Guaranteed

a group of people standing in front of a crowd

What’s the state of manufacturing in the U.S.? Strong and resilient—but under threat.

That was the message delivered by NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons and other speakers at the NAM’s 2024 State of Manufacturing Address at RCO Engineering in Roseville, Michigan, on Thursday.

  • Attending the address were nearly 100 RCO Engineering team members—some of whom are second- or even third-generation manufacturing workers—as well as local education leaders, including Macomb Community College President James O. Sawyer IV and Macomb Intermediate School District Superintendent Michael R. DeVault.
  • The address was the keystone event of this week’s launch of the 2024 Competing to Win Tour, an opportunity to visit local manufacturers and report on where the industry stands at the start of 2024. 

A place of strength: “The state of the manufacturing industry depends on the people in it,” Timmons said in remarks covered by POLITICO Influence (subscription). “And we are now 13 million strong—the largest in more than 15 years. If we can continue on this trajectory, this resurgence, imagine what the state of manufacturing might look like in 2030.”

  • Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Operations & Risk Officer and NAM Board Chair Kathy Wengel echoed that sentiment in her opening remarks. “Manufacturers are improving the quality of life for everyone. … Together, we can lead the way.”
  • And Michigan Manufacturers Association President and CEO John Walsh told the audience at RCO Engineering, “You are making parts here that are going everywhere. It’s a phenomenal story for us in Michigan. It not only helps you as employees here, but it helps your families, it helps your communities. It builds our state. It builds our nation.”
  • “Manufacturing … is an industry that is vital to our economic competitiveness,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “In Macomb County, we’re not just witnessing the growth of manufacturing; we’re actively contributing to it. What we are doing here is creating an environment where innovation thrives and where manufacturers can grow as well as compete.”
  • RCO Engineering General Manager Jeff Simek agreed. “The manufacturing brand is coming back, and it’s coming back alive—and you guys are a big, huge piece of that,” he said to loud applause. 

Fork in the road: But continued manufacturing strength isn’t guaranteed, Timmons said. Rather, it’s in large part contingent on sound policy decisions by U.S. leaders.

  • “We will head in the wrong direction if Congress lets taxes go up on small businesses when rates expire next year,” Timmons said. “Or if they hit you with even more regulations—regulations even harsher than ones they have in Europe. Or if they fail to solve the immigration crisis because they put politics over good policy. Or choose trade barriers rather than trade agreements, or … abandon our allies overseas and put our national security at risk.”
  • The recent regulatory onslaught by federal agencies—which Timmons discussed with Fox Business earlier this week—must stop and be replaced with sensible rulemaking done in cooperation with manufacturers, he said.
  • He cited the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently finalized, overly stringent standard for particulate matter and the Biden administration’s decision to freeze liquefied natural gas export permits. This “forc[es] our allies, like Europe and Japan, to buy dirtier energy from countries we can’t trust, potentially enriching the likes of Russia … undercut[ting] our most basic national security objectives,” Timmons said.

No new taxes: The NAM’s message to Congress on taxes is simple: “No new taxes on manufacturers in America,” Timmons said. 

  • “And while we’re at it, Congress should bring back some of the tax policies that made it easier for manufacturers to invest in the future.”

On immigration: The U.S. needs a common-sense solution to immigration, and it needs it now, Timmons said.

  • While manufacturers may not like every piece of the bipartisan border deal that was recently killed in the Senate, “here was my test: Does it make us more secure than we are today? Yes. Does it make our workforce stronger than it is today? Yes. And does it help our allies overseas? Yes,” said Timmons.

Come what may: No matter what the November elections bring, manufacturers will continue to do the jobs so many people depend on them to do, Timmons concluded.

  • “Our commitment is to work with anyone, and I truly mean anyone, who will put policy—policy that supports people—ahead of politics, personality or process. We will stand with you if you stand with us in advancing the values that have made America exceptional and keep manufacturing strong.” 
Press Releases

Immigration Reform and Border Security Critical to Manufacturers’ Success in America

Washington, D.C. – Following the Senate introduction of the Border Act of 2024, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“For years, manufacturers have called on Congress to fix our broken immigration system, and the need for a solution at the border has only grown more urgent. This bill is neither perfect nor comprehensive, but it is important to take steps to address immigration reform and border security consistent with our plan, ‘A Way Forward.’

“Manufacturers believe the Senate’s legislation clears some critical tests: Does it make us more secure than we are today by tackling the border crisis? Yes. Does it address our ongoing worker shortage through strengthening the visa program? Yes. And does it protect democracy by supporting our allies overseas? Yes.

“Anytime Congress shows progress on sensible policy, it is a positive development for our country. The bipartisan group of Senate leaders deserves great credit for forging a plan on one of the most complicated issues facing our nation, and we appreciate the leadership’s support for this critical work.

“The NAM will work with both chambers and the administration to enact meaningful change on the critical issues of immigration and border security.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.85 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

Texas Rail Ports Closures Hit Economy

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has closed two critical rail ports in Texas in an effort to stem a surge of migration, according to CNBC.

What’s going on: Immigration authorities “announced rail operations would be halted at El Paso and Eagle Pass, Texas, beginning Monday in light of the surge of migrants crossing the border.”

  • Officials said this temporary suspension of operations will enable the government to redirect personnel to assist Border Patrol with taking migrants into custody.
  • “Collectively both railroads operate 24 trains daily at these crossings.”

Why it’s important: More than $200 million in goods, wages and transportation are lost each day the El Paso and Eagle Pass rail lines remain shuttered, according to Union Pacific.

  • The closures are affecting international commerce, with mounting impacts on the agricultural, food, automotive, consumer goods and industrial commodity sectors, among others.
  • A total of nearly 10,000 rail cars are being held on both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border, according to Union Pacific.
  • “According to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data, El Paso and Eagle Pass accounted for $33.95 billion, or 35.8%, of all cross-border rail traffic from November 2022 – October 2023,” CNBC reports.

The backdrop: The developments come the same week Texas Gov. Greg Abbott “signed into law a measure giving state and local police authority to arrest and deport migrants caught crossing the border illegally,” according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

What we’re doing: The NAM is in communication with the White House, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and key Senate and House members on the issue, advocating for an immediate solution to the reopening of the rail ports.

  • “Mexico is the United States’ largest trading partner, and enabling trade between the two countries is critical for North American economic competitiveness,” said NAM Director of Trade Facilitation Policy Ali Aafedt. “The NAM will continue to advocate for solutions that uphold our laws while also facilitating legitimate trade.”
Input Stories

Commerce Updates Chip-Export Restrictions


The Biden administration announced broad updates to restrictions on U.S. exports of advanced computing and semiconductor-making equipment to China, according to Reuters (subscription).

What’s going on: “The measures are designed to prevent China from acquiring the cutting-edge chips needed to develop AI technologies such as large language models, which power applications such as ChatGPT but that U.S. officials say also have military uses that present a national security threat.”

  • The updated interim final rules announced on Oct. 17 will go into effect Nov. 17 and will “reinforce the October 7, 2022, controls to restrict [China]’s ability to both purchase and manufacture certain high-end chips critical for military advantage,” according to a press release from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

Why it matters: “These controls were strategically crafted to address, among other concerns, [China]’s efforts to obtain semiconductor manufacturing equipment essential to producing advanced integrated circuits needed for the next generation of advanced weapon systems” and other technologies that “present U.S. national security concerns,” according to the BIS.

  • In an effort to control a wider range of chips, Tuesday’s rules will focus on computing power only and will require companies to notify the U.S. government when they sell chips that come in just under restriction limits.

“Chiplets”: The rules also seek to address “chiplets,” in which small portions of a chip are spliced to make a full chip.

  • “Analysts had expressed concern that Chinese firms could use such technology to acquire chiplets that stayed within the legal limits but that could later be assembled in secret into a larger chip that would break the rules,” according to Reuters.

​​​​​​​ The last word: “By imposing stringent license requirements, we ensure that those seeking to obtain powerful advanced chips and chip manufacturing equipment will not use these technologies to undermine U.S. national security,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea D. Rozman Kendler.
​​​​​​​

Input Stories

Housing Starts Rise

The number of new homes being built “showed a substantial rebound” in September, while the number of permits to build declined, according to Markets Insider.

What’s going on: “The Commerce Department said housing starts spiked by 7.0 percent to an annual rate of 1.358 million in September after plunging by 12.5 percent to a revised rate of 1.269 million in August.”

  • At the same time, permits—an indicator of future demand for housing—dropped by 4.4% to an annual rate of 1.475 million, following a surge in August.

Less than predicted: Economists had predicted that September housing starts would spike to a rate of 1.380 million from the previous month.

Why it’s important: Mortgage rates have risen to record highs recently, pushed by the Federal Reserve’s still-elevated interest rate target.

  • Higher rates have led to a decline in home sales and prices.
Input Stories

DOJ, ACLU Reach Settlement on Separated Migrant Families

The Justice Department has reached an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union that would give benefits to thousands of migrant families separated at the border under the previous administration’s policies, according to ABC News.

What’s going on: “Under the proposed agreement, the Justice Department says, new standards would be established to limit migrant family separations in the future. The settlement would prohibit separations unless there are concerns regarding the wellness of the migrant child, national security issues, medical emergencies or in the case of criminal warrants.”

  • The deal—on which a federal judge must still sign off—would also cover any medical costs incurred because of the separations.
  • If approved, it would stay in effect for six years. 

Why it’s important: “[U]nder the settlement, more than 3,900 children and their families would be eligible for temporary relief from future deportation for up to three years, with a chance to renew. Members of those families would also be granted work authorizations.”

  • More than 75% of the originally identified families that were separated have either been reunited or given the information they need to reunite, according to a Biden administration official.
  • “The agreement further expands the number of families that will be eligible for humanitarian parole and reunification, meaning that the ACLU and other organizations will be receiving information on separated families that was previously unknown,” according to ABC News.

Previous policy: A policy in place for four months in 2018 “mandated prosecutions for all suspected illegal border crossings, which led to parents being deported while their children stayed in U.S. custody or were placed in foster care.”

The last word: “The NAM has long called for policy that explicitly prohibits the separation of minor children from their parents, which is what we lay out in ‘A Way Forward,’ our immigration-policy document,” said NAM Director of Domestic Policy Julia Bogue.

Input Stories

U.S. Life Expectancy Declines


Life expectancy in the U.S. started falling even before the global pandemic—and it’s continuing to decline, according to The Washington Post (subscription).

What’s going on: According to a yearlong investigation by the Post, “[a]fter decades of progress, life expectancy—long regarded as a singular benchmark of a nation’s success—peaked in 2014 [in the U.S.] at 78.9 years, then drifted downward even before the coronavirus pandemic. Among wealthy nations, the United States in recent decades went from the middle of the pack to being an outlier. And it continues to fall further and further behind.”

  • While the opioid crisis and gun violence are contributing to the rising death toll, heart disease and cancer have remained the leading cause of death among people aged 35 to 64.
  • Meanwhile, diabetes and liver disease are becoming more common killers.

A worrisome increase: “In a quarter of the nation’s counties, mostly in the South and Midwest, working-age people are dying at a higher rate than 40 years ago, The Post found.”

  • The trend is exacerbated by economic divisions. In the early 1980s, the nation’s poorest people were 9% more likely to die than their wealthier counterparts. Today, they are 61% more likely to die.

What we can do: “Medical science could help turn things around. Diabetes patients are benefiting from new drugs, called GLP-1 agonists . . . that provide improved blood-sugar control and can lead to a sharp reduction in weight. But insurance companies, slow to see obesity as a disease, often decline to pay for the drugs for people who do not have diabetes.”

  • The FDA has approved several such drugs so far, including Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro.
Input Stories

Judge Rules DACA Illegal


A federal policy that prevents the deportation of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children was deemed illegal for a second time on Wednesday by a federal judge, according to Reuters (subscription).

What’s going on: “The decision by Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen deals a fresh setback to the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and its 579,000 enrollees and other immigrants who might have hoped to be approved.”

  • In 2021, Hanen found the policy unlawful, and in his decision this week found that a 2022 regulation issued by the Biden administration had not fixed the “legal deficiencies” he’d found the year before.

What it means: The Department of Homeland Security will be able to renew the immigration status of those enrolled in DACA before Hanen’s 2021 ruling, according to Reuters.

  • This week’s ruling—a response to a suit brought by Texas and eight other states that say the policy breaches federal regulatory law—doesn’t require U.S. immigration officials “to take any immigration, deportation or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant or any other individual that would otherwise not be taken,” Hanen wrote.

The administration responds: The White House responded that in keeping with the order, it would continue to process renewals for current DACA enrollees.

  • Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a separate statement that the ruling “undermine[s] the security and stability of more than half a million Dreamers who have contributed to our communities.”

Why it’s important: Ending the DACA program—particularly at a time when there is an acute worker shortage—does a tremendous disservice to U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, according to the NAM, which has long advocated fixing the broken American immigration system.

  • This week’s ruling “only underscores the need to protect those who have never known a home other than the U.S.,” the NAM said Wednesday. “Manufacturers urge Congress to reform our immigration system, using the principles laid out in … ‘A Way Forward,’” the NAM’s immigration-policy blueprint.
Policy and Legal

Immigration Is a Personal Cause for This Manufacturing Leader

For Fernando Torres, the vice president of operations at thermoplastics manufacturer Greene Tweed, the issue of immigration is personal. In 1996, at the age of 16, Torres immigrated to the United States. He was undocumented for a time, and he was forced to figure out how to stay afloat.

His story: Alone, without stable residency and barely speaking the language, Torres had a harrowing start in the U.S. But he worked his way through community college, where he excelled in math courses even though he wasn’t yet fluent in English. Torres attributes his love for math and science to his grandfather, who he says is the smartest man he’s ever met.

  • “I had a difficult situation at the age of 16 in a new country without knowing the culture or the language, asking, what am I going to do?” said Torres. “Living in this country, it’s the country of opportunities, so I had to find ways to make it work and pursue the American dream.”
  • “But, as an undocumented person, the jobs available were not pretty. Whether I was washing dishes at a seafood restaurant or cutting the lawns in Arizona in the middle of the 120-degree weather summers, I just had to find a way to survive.”

Entering the industry: After community college, Torres was accepted into Arizona State University’s program for aerospace engineering—and eventually, he found a place in the commercial sector at Greene Tweed. Today, he’s a U.S. citizen, and he’s just as passionate as ever about the value of immigration.

Immigration and manufacturing meet: Torres has seen the skills gap in manufacturing firsthand, and he knows how difficult it is to fill critical jobs. That’s one reason why immigration is so important to the manufacturing industry, he pointed out.

  • “There is a shortage of people,” said Torres. “Skilled laborers are very difficult to find in our country, and retirements are outpacing anyone that’s coming in. There’s not enough people to run our factories—and if we want the economy to grow, we need people to grow it.”

An economic issue: Torres also emphasized that a person’s stance on the issue of immigration in manufacturing should come down to economic considerations.

  • “We need to stop talking about immigration as a political issue—it’s a business issue,” said Torres. “We don’t have enough people to grow this economy internally. And if we can’t grow it internally, we have to open factories elsewhere. So this isn’t a political need, it’s an economic need.”

NAM’s push for change: NAM has long fought for commonsense immigration reform and outlined a series of proposals in A Way Forward—a road map that covers border security, reforms to legal immigration and permanent solutions for populations like DREAMers that are facing uncertainty.

The last word: “Immigrants are here to give, not to take away from this country—and we give a lot,” said Torres. “If it wasn’t for the waves of immigration during the last century to the United States, we wouldn’t be the number one economy in the world.”

Input Stories

Immigration Is a Personal Cause for This Manufacturing Leader

For Fernando Torres, the vice president of operations at thermoplastics manufacturer Greene Tweed, the issue of immigration is personal. In 1996, at the age of 16, Torres immigrated to the United States. He was undocumented for a time, and he was forced to figure out how to stay afloat.

His story: Alone, without stable residency and barely speaking the language, Torres had a harrowing start in the U.S. But he worked his way through community college, where he excelled in math courses even though he wasn’t yet fluent in English. Torres attributes his love for math and science to his grandfather, who he says is the smartest man he’s ever met.

  • “I had a difficult situation at the age of 16 in a new country without knowing the culture or the language, asking, what am I going to do?” said Torres. “Living in this country, it’s the country of opportunities, so I had to find ways to make it work and pursue the American dream.”
  • “But, as an undocumented person, the jobs available were not pretty. Whether I was washing dishes at a seafood restaurant or cutting the lawns in Arizona in the middle of the 120-degree- weather summers, I just had to find a way to survive.”

Entering the industry: After community college, Torres was accepted into Arizona State University’s program for aerospace engineering—and eventually, he found a place in the commercial sector at Greene Tweed. Today, he’s a U.S. citizen, and he’s just as passionate as ever about the value of immigration.

Immigration and manufacturing meet: Torres has seen the skills gap in manufacturing firsthand, and he knows how difficult it is to fill critical jobs. That’s one reason why immigration is so important to the manufacturing industry, he pointed out.

  • “There is a shortage of people,” said Torres. “Skilled laborers are very difficult to find in our country, and retirements are outpacing anyone that’s coming in. There’s not enough people to run our factories—and if we want the economy to grow, we need people to grow it.”

Read the full story here.

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