Labor shortages and immigration reform: promises and pitfalls of an independent commission

Date: December 9, 2010

Whether to open the US labor market to more foreign workers is the toughest migration issue facing Congress, and one of the most challenging questions in debates about comprehensive immigration reform.

This all-day conference will explore EPI’s recommended solution, an independent commission that could study labor markets and make recommendations on how to meet labor market needs, including the criteria that employers would need to meet to be granted access to guest workers.

The United Kingdom’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has, since 2007, advised the British government on these issues and serves as a case study for the potential promise and pitfalls of such a commission here in the United States.  Martin Ruhs, a member of the MAC, and Mark Franks, a member of the MAC secretariat, will be among the presenters.


8:30 am Breakfast and registration

9:00 Welcome, Ross Eisenbrey and Martin Ruhs

9:15 Panel Discussion: Responding to Employers: Congress or Commissions?

Ray Marshall (Former U.S. Secretary of Labor) Philip Martin (University of California, Davis) Doris Meissner (Former Commissioner, INS; Migration Policy Institute)

Moderated by Ross Eisenbrey (Economic Policy Institute)

10:30 Break

10:45 Panel Discussion: The UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC): Processes & Outcomes, 2007 – 2010

Martin Ruhs (U.K. Migration Advisory Committee) Mark Franks (U.K. Migration Advisory Committee, Secretariat) Discussant: Madeleine Sumption (Migration Policy Institute)

Moderated by Simon Hayes (U.K. Border Agency)

11:45 MAC and Intra-Company Transfers

Mark Franks (U.K. Migration Advisory Committee, Secretariat) Discussant: Ron Hira (Rochester Institute of Technology)

12:20 pm Lunch

1:10 What Would a Commission Do? Construction trades

Martin Ruhs (U.K. Migration Advisory Committee) Discussant: Robert Pleasure (Building and Construction Trades Dept., AFL-CIO)

2:00 What Would a Commission Do? Nurses and Social Care

Martin Ruhs (U.K. Migration Advisory Committee) Discussant: Lindsay Lowell (ISIM, Georgetown University)

2:50 Break

3:10 What Would a Commission Do? Information Technology

Mark Franks (U.K. Migration Advisory Committee, Secretariat) Discussant: Michael Teitelbaum(Sloan Foundation)

4:00 Panel Discussion: Independent Commissions and Immigration reform –Competing Perspectives

Laura Foote Reiff (Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, Greenberg Traurig, LLP) Ana Avendano (AFL-CIO)

Moderated by Susan Martin (ISIM, Georgetown University)

5:00 Close