WHO WE ARE
The Massachusetts Business Immigration Coalition (MBIC) brings together business leaders from across the Commonwealth to be a voice for federal and state policies that ensure companies have the talent they need at all levels of training. MBIC advocates for policies that foster complete economic integration of foreign born talent and sustained prosperity for all. We are committed to the success of immigrants in our economy as workers, consumers, entrepreneurs, residents, consumers, investors, residents and citizens.
MBIC’s work is based on the following key principles and policy positions:
Global access to talent is a matter of business urgency. Policy should enable consistent, reliable access to the talent we need at all skill levels to sustain our global competitiveness and our leadership in key industries including healthcare, education, information technology, life sciences, finance, and robotics.
Companies and workers need both efficiency and stability. Policy should ensure security and predictability for our immigrant workforce and our immigrant consumer base and a streamlined process to legal employment.
Market driven solutions should protect both U.S. and foreign born workers. Policy should provide “a mechanism that responds to the needs of business in a market-driven way, while also fully protecting the wages and working conditions of U.S. and immigrant workers”, in accordance with the joint principles of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO regarding temporary workers.
Long-term normalcy in the form of residency and citizenship is required. Policy should establish a path to legal permanent residency and citizenship for immigrants who are currently undocumented or have only temporary status (e.g. DACA or TPS), to leverage their talent and to facilitate their complete integration as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs and investors.
Foreign-born entrepreneurs need a clear path to starting businesses. Policy has to support safe and efficient business creation. From high-tech innovation to barber-shops, nail salons and tax preparation services, the businesses foreign born people in Massachusetts want to start add economic strength and vitality.
Foreign-trained professionals should be able to operate here with less resistance. Policy should reduce the barriers foreign-trained immigrants and refugees face when they attempt to rejoin their professions in Massachusetts.
MBIC Policy Agenda 2019-20:
Priorities for Massachusetts Businesses
The Massachusetts Business Immigration Coalition (MBIC) represents a diverse and growing group of business leaders committed to building a more welcoming and inclusive Massachusetts that makes the most of the global talent drawn to our shores. This policy agenda is focused on promoting economic opportunity, business growth, and entrepreneurship as a way for Massachusetts to remain competitive and innovative.
One in five workers in Massachusetts is foreign-born. Our immigrant residents are overwhelmingly working-age and employed: 71% are ages 25–64, compared with just 51% of the US-born. Immigrants also play crucial roles in construction, health care, elder care, and truly every industry and sector.
Foreign-born talent is a fundamental asset to our globally recognized role as a hub in science, engineering, healthcare, finance, technology and education. Immigrants make up 59.2% of medical and life scientists in MA, and 28% of STEM jobs. In addition, 33% of STEM master’s students and 36% of STEM Ph.D. students are foreign nationals.
Entrepreneurship in Massachusetts and foreign-born talent go hand in hand. 58% of Fortune 500 companies in Massachusetts were founded by immigrants or their children. Immigrants also play a vital role in “Main Street” economies across Massachusetts. Boston alone is home to some 8,800 immigrant-owned small businesses that generate almost $3.7 billion in annual sales.
Immigrants are also our customers. Immigrant households in Massachusetts earn $42.9 billion per year and have $31 billion in spending power. They pay $8.4 billion per year in federal and $3.5 billion in local and state taxes, plus payroll taxes.
In pursuit of our long-term vision, we have identified the following policy priorities for 2019–2020:
Reverse changes in policy and practice that have sharply increased H-1B visa denials, lengthened wait times, and reduced worker mobility.
H-1B visas create jobs in America and create hundreds of millions of dollars in value for American workers in a wide range of fields. Researchers have shown that the H-1B visas awarded from 2010 to 2013 will lead to 700,000 jobs for US-born workers by 2020. In spite of the fact that these tools for admitting highly productive foreign born workers are economic engines for the US, they have been treated by powerful authorities as a threat to US economic security. Federal data shows that from the third quarter of fiscal year 2017 to the fourth, with the implementation of the “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order and related policies, sponsors of high-skilled workers seeking H-1B visas faced an almost 300% increase in Requests for Evidence from USCIS, while H-1B denials increased by 41%, to almost a quarter of all petitions. For Massachusetts employers, this has led to key science and technology positions going unfilled. The ripple effect for the region’s economy will go on for years.
As a result of recent changes in federal immigration policy, wait times for H-1B approvals have also increased, to up to 10 months, and in April 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended “premium processing,” which had allowed employers who paid an additional fee to expedite express processing of applications.
We urge the Administration to embrace the economic opportunity for America and Americans that the H-1B program represents. We call on federal authorities to ensure that U.S. businesses have the high-skilled workers they need to continue to lead the world in innovation and to generate economic opportunity for all.
Provide permanent residency and a path to citizenship for immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
More than 12,000 immigrants in Massachusetts, mainly from Haiti and El Salvador, have TPS, which allows people from countries affected by disasters or conflict to live and work legally in the U.S. Many have lived here for over 20 years. Now the federal government is ending TPS, with protections for Haitians scheduled to end in July and for Salvadorans, in September. Another 6,000 Massachusetts residents have DACA, which the administration is also seeking to end.
In all, thousands of workers in key economic sectors such as health care, elder care, hospitality and construction will lose their work permits and face deportation unless Congress steps in. We support legislation to enable them to obtain permanent residency. They are an essential part of our workforce, our businesses and our communities.
Additional Federal Priorities
In addition, we support the following positions on federal issues each of which is a critical business issue that directly affects our ability to attract and retain the workforce and the resources we need to compete.
Full implementation of the Immigrant Entrepreneur Rule;
Expand the pool of H-1B visas and employment-based green cards;
Protect J-1 Cultural Exchange Visas especially for our seasonal workforce
Expansion of the H-4 and OPT programs that are critical for sustaining the pathway to higher education and then long-term residence in Massachusetts, and which have particular importance given that thousands of highly talented international students come to Massachusetts for higher education and are unable to get employment visas after graduation.
We object to any effort to undermine the 2020 U.S. Census, including by adding a citizenship question. The impact on Massachusetts of allowing immigration politics into the process could be a catastrophic loss of billions of dollars in the Commonwealth’s share of federal resources that are critical to our economy.
At the state level in Massachusetts, MBIC’s legislative priorities for 2019–2020 are:
Adopt legislation to address barriers blocking foreign-trained health professionals from pursuing their career paths here in Massachusetts.
Across Massachusetts, more than one in five foreign-trained health professionals – doctors, nurses, physical therapists, etc. – is jobless or underemployed, held back by licensing requirements, language barriers, lack of targeted career services, and other factors. MBIC supports legislation to create a state commission to find ways to reduce entry barriers for these health professionals in exchange for providing culturally and linguistically appropriate care in underserved areas.
Boost state investment in English classes, adult basic education and job training; and English language training for foreign born professionals to augment their training and experience to complete a US degree.
Language barriers keep many foreign born workers at all levels of education and training from realizing their economic potential. Demand for English classes for adults far exceeds the supply, with waitlists of 16,000+. There is also substantial unmet need for specialized employment support services for immigrants who face particularly high barriers, mainly due to language issues. In addition, there is a strong business and economic case for investing in the English proficiency of foreign-born professionals whose prior experience and competitive credentials have distinct value in our labor market. MBIC urges the Governor and Legislature to boost investments in these critical programs in the FY 2020 budget and beyond.
We Support the Safe Communities Act
Legislation has been filed called the Safe Communities Act, with the intention to protect civil rights and due process, and to clearly distinguish between public safety and federal immigration enforcement.
The stated aim of the SCA is to protect the civil rights, safety and well-being of all Massachusetts residents by drawing a clear line between federal immigration enforcement and public safety. The federal government has actively worked to enlist local police, sheriffs and court officials in deportation efforts. The result is an undermining of community trust and increased fear among immigrants, many of whom live in mixed-status households. It is widely understood in the business community that when workers are not comfortable calling 911, they are made unsafe and the business is as well.
We Support legislation that has been filed to allow driver's licenses to be available to all qualified residents of Massachusetts.
Legislation has been filed to make standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses available to all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status. Studies have indicated that there is a significant public safety issue and therefore a risk to our workforce in the status quo situation. In addition, studies have shown significant economic advantages for this approach which would allow significant numbers of individuals currently operating vehicles without a license to become eligible for insurance. This is about the safety of the workforce and our customers and communities.
Thomas N. O'Brien
Co-Chair of the MBIC
Managing Director, The HYM Investment Group
Thomas N. O'Brien is the Founding Partner and Managing Director of The HYM Investment Group, LLC. HYM is currently leading the development of over eighteen (18) million square feet of mixed-use development in Greater Boston. Prior to HYM, O'Brien served as a Managing Partner for JPI, a national developer and owner of multifamily communities, and as a Managing Director in Boston and New York for Tishman Speyer. O'Brien also led the Boston Redevelopment Authority as its Director and Chief of Staff, from 1994 to 2000. O'Brien has served as Chairman of The Greater Boston Real Estate Board and serves on the Board of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University. In 2011, the Governor of Massachusetts appointed O’Brien to the Board of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency. In 2016, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh appointed O’Brien to the Board of Trustees of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. O’Brien is a graduate of Brown University, Suffolk University Law School and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.
Co-Chair of the MBIC
Executive Director, MIRA Coalition
Eva A. Millona is Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, the lead national organization focusing on immigrant integration. She joined MIRA in 1999 and served as Director of Policy and Advocacy and as Deputy Director before becoming Executive Director in 2008. Prior to MIRA, Ms. Millona directed the refugee resettlement program in Central Massachusetts. In her native Albania, she practiced civil and criminal law, serving on Tirana’s District Court from 1989 – 1992, when she was the nation’s youngest district judge ever appointed.
Ms. Millona is also the co-chair of the Massachusetts Governor’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants and serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement and serves on the Attorney General’s Council for New Americans.
Melissa Alexis, Founder, Cultural Fabric
Bob Allard - Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Extension Engine
Zamawa Arenas - Founder & CEO, Flowetik
Jen Benson - President, Alliance for Business Leadership
Jeff Bolton - CEO, Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc.
Evelyn Brito - Executive Producer, Keep it Simple Productions, LLC
Bing Broderick - Executive Director, Haley House
Scott Brody - CEO, Everwood Camp Partners
Eveline Buchatskiy - Managing Partner, One Way Ventures
Andrea Cabral - CEO, Ascend Massachusetts
Albion Calaj - Managing Partner, Hybrid Valley
Pravin Chaturvedi - Co-Founder & CEO at Oceanyx Pharmaceuticals
Elyse Cherry - CEO, Blue Hub Capital
JD Chesloff - Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Roundtable
Tom Clay - CEO, Xtalic
Ben Cooper - SVP, Klear Vu Home Textiles
Robert Coughlin, President, MassBIO
Michael K. Durkin - President & CEO - United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
Tom Dretler - Co-Founder and CEO, Shorelight Education
Semyon Dukach - Managing Partner, One Way Ventures
Herby Duverné - Founder and CEO, Windwalker Group
Phil Edmundson, CEO, Corvus Insurance
Scott Fitzgerald - Partner, Fragomen Worldwide
Seana Gaherin, Owner Dunn Gaherins Restaurant
Sarah Gallop - Chair, Kendall Square Association
Marshall Gilinsky, Shareholder (Partner), Anderson Kill PC
Meg Glazer - Vice-President, Glacon Contracting
Tali Golan - Director of Social Impact, TripAdvisor
Steve Grossman - President and CEO, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)
Jeff Goldman - Owner, Law Offices of Jeff Goldman
Alex Goldstein - CEO and Founder, 90 West
Tom Hopcroft - President & CEO, Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council
Ron Kermisch - Managing Director, Bain and Company
Afarin Ketabi - Principal, Catalyst Properties
Alex Ketabi - Principal, Catalyst Properties
Josiane Martinez - Founder and CEO, Archipelago Strategies Group, Inc.
John Maraganore - CEO, Alynylam Pharmaceuticals
George Matouk - CEO, John Matouk & Co.
Gregory O. Minott, AIA, LEED AP - Principal, DREAM Collaborative
Paul A. McCampbell - Vice-President, Senior HomeCare Solutions
Reinier Moquete - Founder and CEO, Advoqt Technology Group
Rachel Murray - COO, SGO (She Geeks Out)
Tim Murray - President and CEO - Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Katherine S. Newman - Interim Chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Thomas N. O'Brien - Managing Director, The HYM Investment Group, LLC
Michael O'Sullivan - President and CEO, Bristol County Chamber of Commerce
Larry O'Toole - CEO, Gentle Giant Moving Company
Colette Phillips - CEO and Founder, CPC Global & Get Konnected
Hector Piña - President/CEO , Tres Islas Restaurant Group (Doña Habana, Vejigantes, Merengue, Cilantro)
Nivia Piña - Co-Owner, Tres Islas Restaurant Group (Doña Habana, Vejigantes, Merengue, Cilantro)
Amy Pitter - CEO, Massachusetts Society of CPA's, Inc.
Greg Reibman - President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Bob Rivers - CEO and Chairman, Eastern Bank
Jerry Rubin - President and CEO, Jewish Vocational Service
Scott Sargis - Managing Director, IEC Partners
Mark Shirman - COO, Congruity
Steve Stern - Owner/President, FirstLight HomeCare of West Suburban Boston
Christine Stewart - President, Stewart International Travel
Andrew Tarsy - Principal, Emblem Strategic
Michael Troiano - Partner, G20 Ventures
C.A. Webb - President, Kendall Square Association
Joseph A. White - President and CEO, Circle Health
Adrienne Vaughan - Vice Chair, American Immigration Lawyers Association, New England Chapter