Our vibrancy depends on recruiting and keeping talented people, with tools like visas and a path to legal status.
In 1970, I left Europe and arrived in New York with a suitcase full of little dresses. It was the soul and beauty of this great nation that called to me then, and its creative spirit provided me with the opportunity to build a global fashion business and become the woman I wanted to be. With these dresses, I lived an American dream.
In the world of fashion, mine is not an uncommon story. For centuries, immigrants have built and grown important fashion houses in America, including Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung and Joseph Altuzarra. There is a mosaic of foreign languages buzzing behind the curtains of showrooms and backstage at fashion shows. The patterns, contrasts and textures of the clothes we design are just as colorful as the flags and stories of each of the workers who create them. Many work in textile factories, sewing and conceiving rich designs to bring to life in the garments, shoes and accessories we wear.
Today, however, the vibrancy of our industry is at risk. The future of American fashion — and jobs — depends on the modernization of the immigration system. Hardworking undocumented immigrants should be able to earn legal status after successfully passing a background check.
We should have smarter immigration enforcement priorities rather than aiming to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants (and even some legal immigrants), keeping in mind how long they have lived here, how strong their contributions are to their community, and how many U.S. citizens depend on them.