New York City Mayor Michael Rubens Bloomberg has joined forces with some of the biggest names in the fashion industry like Oscar de la Renta, Brooks Brothers, Malia Mills and Diane von Furstenberg to implement immigration reforms and promote easier visa procedure for international workers.
At the 2011 NY Fashion Week on Friday, following the close of the fall previews, Mayor Bloomberg announced that eleven leading designers, retailers, wholesalers, and entrepreneurs from the fashion industry have joined the Partnership for a New American Economy to make the case that sensible immigration reform will help American industry and grow the American economy.
The Partnership is an alliance between business leaders and mayors in the US launched by Mayor Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch to influence public opinion and policymakers toward comprehensive immigration reform.
One of their major goals is to pursue the White House and the Congress to enact legislation in order to create a path for legal status of thousands of undocumented immigrants residing in the country.
New York City, being the hub of the fashion industry, has over 165,000 undocumented immigrants, accounting for 5.5 percent of the City's workforce and 31 percent of its manufacturing jobs.
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Fashion is a perfect example of an industry that relies on talent from across the world, says Bloomberg in a statement.
In fact, some of the leading apparel companies in the US like Levi Strauss & Co., Guess and Nautica were founded by immigrants. In New York itself, the fashion industry generates over $1.7 billion tax revenue with $9 billion in total wages.
However, barriers imposed by the current immigration system like low caps on visas, unpredictable processing delays and inconsistent criteria for work-related visas creates an environment of uncertainty among such people.
In such situations, it is very likely that businesses shift their locations elsewhere where a stable immigration system exists. As per industry experts and pioneers, the American fashion industry will be greatly benefitted if a predictable and stable visa process is in place.
New York City is the fashion capital of the world, and that means thousands of jobs for our city...if international fashion companies face too many visa problems in America, they will simply move their billions in revenue and thousands of jobs to our competitors overseas. We need an immigration strategy that supports our businesses, instead of getting in their way, Bloomberg states.
The fashion industry depends largely on new and emerging talent. Diane von Furstenberg, President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, pointed out that the US was mainly built by immigrants. In order to remain the global leader in fashion, the country should continue to welcome immigrants who bring to the industry new ideas, new businesses, and new energy.