From the Executive Director - November 2015


​​​Staying on the Case

Like all of you, my team and I were shocked and horrified last week by the deadly attacks in Paris and Beirut and this morning's hostage-taking in Mali. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those lost and the people of all the countries recently hit with terror.

While we hope that such events never happen, this violence and uncertainty remind us of the importance of precautionary company policies and plans for helping employees who are working in foreign countries when crisis hits. On that note, a recent SHRM Online piece highlights some of the responsibilities of HR professionals in the aftermath of a crisis.

At CFGI, we have been part of a global effort to develop policies to facilitate public and private partnerships in crisis situations. In fact, we have been working with the U.S. Department of State and the International Organization for Migration to organize a December meeting of the Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) – an international initiative with the goal of developing policy recommendations for protecting migrant workers during crisis situations. The guidelines for employers MICIC aims to develop will touch on issues related to employee safety and security, global mobility and human resources management.

Our Global Immigration Specialist, Andrew Yewdell, and I will be attending the December meeting in Geneva, where employers will have an opportunity to discuss and influence the guidelines. We invite all of you to participate if you are interested. Please contact Andrewif you want to learn more.

The shocking attacks, the continuing threat of even more violence and the ongoing Syrian migrant crisis are shaping debates over more than just humanitarian immigration. In fact, we are seeing increasing support for closing borders, including suspension or revision of the Schengen Agreement. On December 7, CFGI will participate in a meeting of the EU Expert Group on Economic Migration where we will focus on ways to improve the Blue Card.   However, it remains unclear how recent events will influence this discussion. At this week's G20 meeting, BritishPrime Minister Cameron "said he supports the free movement of labor among EU members. But, he wants a more fair system and for governments to have more power in controlling immigration."

These events are influencing the debate in the United States as well. We've heard governors across the country declare their states will not accept refugees, and members of Congress have already taken action to prevent the United States from doing the same. While these debates don't directly affect the issues we all work on, they form the background for all immigration-related conversations.

These debates also come at a time when we have been seeing harsh critiques of programs that are key for employers, namely H-1B visas and L visas. The fact is, we are currently in a high-defense time, with folks on both sides of the aisle and around the world putting up roadblocks to slow down any and all meaningful reform efforts.

As you all know, employers don't have the luxury of sitting quietly and accepting the status quo: You need predictability, efficiency and action even during times of crisis. In the face of all this, what are the next steps? How will we keep up our efforts and remain hopeful?

On the U.S. front, we are already looking to 2016 and gearing up for a new President, a new Administration and a new Congress. That means getting ready now to engage with and inform newly elected officials as soon as possible after Election Day 2016. We want you, the employer, to be the first voice they hear to explain how today's outdated system is hampering business and stifling growth. We want you to be a part of that effort – and we will let you know how to get engaged as we head into the new year.

We are also continuing to build the strong day-to-day working relationships with the government officials who are responsible for the system that you all work with today. CFGI will continue to take every opportunity to effect incremental changes that can slowly improve the efficiency of the current U.S. employment-based immigration system. One recent example is our detailed comments on the proposed OPT regulation.

Meanwhile, we must continue to build and strengthen relationships with other organizations and allies, both in the United States and globally. Raising the standard for immigration and migration practices around the world is a long-term, sustained campaign – and one that demands CFGI work in a wider context. For those of you with global experience, we encourage you to leverage that expertise wherever possible.

The sobering events of the past week offer stark reminders that immigration is a hot-button issue nearly everywhere. Employers have a duty to present their case in these debates – and CFGI stands at the ready to do all we can to advance our efforts. And with your commitment and expertise, we will make – and win – that case.