The Iowa Business Council today pushed for quick approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and asked elected officials to reform immigration laws to make it easier to fill job vacancies. 

IBC said immigration changes should “reflect employer needs, market forces and workforce demands.”

The council, which represents 23 major Iowa employers, has noted that Iowa ranks low among the states in population growth and diversity. The organization has made addressing those issues a top priority. 

"To ensure the Iowa economy continues to expand, we need to develop concrete steps to increase our population and skilled workforce," said IBC Chairwoman Mary Andringa. “We believe our requests can garner bipartisan support and know that members of Congress can move them forward to create statewide economic stability and lay the foundation for Iowa's growth."

Tim Yaggi, president and CEO of Pella Corp., said: "The incremental reform in our requests can make significant differences to the growth and prosperity of Iowa companies. We will continue to advocate for pro-growth, pro-Iowa strategies with our elected leaders as our companies work for Iowa's overall economic vitality."

The IBC has asked Congress to: 
  • Offer more key visas and exempt from certain limits those who have degrees in needed fields from U.S. universities.
  • Give work authorization to spouses of certain workers who have visas.
  • Simplify processing of employers who have good compliance records.
  • Accelerate visa processing to eliminate a backlog of approved employment applications.
  • Modernize and expedite the green card application process for workers hired for permanent positions, and expand the annual limits for visas.
  • Find a better process for employers to hire and retain permanent workers who graduated from U.S. universities.
  • Create more flexibility in key visa programs and let temporary workers in high-demand jobs such as agriculture, manufacturing and food processing work longer.

“Instead of holding immigration reform captive for a complete overhaul of the system, IBC members urge members of Congress to address the workforce shortage and opportunity for expansion by making common sense reforms to immigration policy that will directly benefit Iowa and the United States as a whole," IBC said in a statement.