October 31, 2022
By Lauren Lamb
DECATUR, Ga. — Advocacy leaders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship recently offered their praise for the adoption of the Bridging the Gap for New Americans Act.
“I am very pleased that the President signed this bipartisan legislation,” said Stephen Reeves, CBF’s director of advocacy.
The bipartisan legislation calls on the U.S. Department of Labor to study systemic barriers to employment that impact immigrants and refugees who hold credentials obtained in another country, and to issue recommendations for reform.
The legislation is a step toward strengthening the workforce by ensuring immigrant and refugee workers’ economic mobility. The bill calls for study of the factors driving underemployment, including limited recognition of credentials, barriers to occupational licensing and uneven access to adult education and workforce development programs, according to CBF Advocacy-partner National Immigration Forum.
CBF Advocacy worked with its immigration partners to champion the passage of this law.
“Research continues to show that enabling immigrants and refugees to find their fullest potential can stave off inflation and economic uncertainty. Hopefully, the result of the Department of Labor’s study brings about the changes needed to allow new Americans to contribute even more to our country,” Reeves said.
The bill requires the Secretary of Labor to conduct a study of the factors affecting employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees with professional credentials attained in foreign countries and provide policy recommendations to Congress, said Elket Rodriguez, who serves as a CBF field personnel. He noted that many immigrants and refugees are prevented to practice their occupations because they have academic degrees and credentials from other countries.
The Brookings Institute reported that immigrants are vital to the U.S. economy because many of their occupations complement the jobs of U.S. workers. Likewise, skilled immigrants can help fill the 11 million job openings in the aging services industry, per McKnights Senior Living and the 407,000 unfilled jobs per the Association of Builders and Contractors.
“It is painful to watch skilled, professional and educated immigrants struggle to practice their occupations in the U.S.,” Rodríguez said. “It can affect their sense of worth, and it is also a missed opportunities for our communities who can benefit from the breadth of their knowledge and skills.”
To learn more about the law, click here. To learn about CBF Advocacy’s Principles and Values for Immigration Report, click here.
CBF is a Christian network that helps people put their faith into practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.