Input from REALTORS® will help push the national conversation on immigration reform forward, said Douglas A. Smith, the Department of Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for the private sector. Smith spoke last week at the Global Networking Committee meeting during the Florida REALTORS® 2013 Conference & Trade Expo in Orlando.
“There’s no bigger area where we need your partnership than on immigration reform,” said Smith, who added that an improved immigration system would enhance America’s economic competitiveness by keeping talent in this country. “At its core, this is an economic argument. This is big business for America.”
The immigration reform debate in the U.S. has amplified as specific proposals gain traction on Capitol Hill. Smith said REALTORS® shouldn’t pay too much attention to the “fringe elements” of the political left and right in this discussion. He cited charges that the EB-5 visa program amounted to “selling citizenship” as an example of this.
“The EB-5 program is not about ‘selling citizenship,’ but about creating jobs,” he explained. “It is tremendously valuable for enhancing foreign investment across the U.S. There are also multiple steps in the process.”
Instead, REALTORS® should look at the issue holistically, understanding that though the benefits of effective immigration reform would be chiefly economic, the U.S. will be enriched in ways that extend beyond dollars and cents.
“You can’t separate economic security and national security,” he said.
Still, REALTORS® should keep the potential benefits for their businesses top of mind when thinking about immigration reform, he added.
“Getting comprehensive immigration reform to happen is going to put dollars in your pocket,” Smith said. “People are coming here for good jobs. And when people have good jobs, what do they do? They buy homes.”