Immigration Reform is Key to a New Economy

By Gary Toebben

A month ago, more than 150 business and civic leaders descended on our nation’s capital to make the case for policies, initiatives and funding priorities to improve our local and national economy. Though we advocated on many fronts, one of our top priorities was Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR).

We painted a picture of how CIR can unlock our nation’s economy’s potential. The expansion of H-1B visas is key to expanding the innovation and reach of our technology sectors. And an efficient pipeline of farm workers is essential to a vibrant agricultural economy.

By ending the existence of a sub-class in our communities through a fair and attainable path to citizenship, we can bring 11 million aspiring citizens out of the shadows and into the light. In so doing, we will inject more than a trillion dollars into our economy over the next decade and increase revenue for critical government services.

What we found in Washington, D.C. a month ago made us hopeful. Leadership in both the House and Senate said that now was the time to push CIR across the finish line. Congress was encouraged by disparate interest groups meeting across the table to find solutions rather than sniping at each other in the media. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO led the way in announcing common principles on issues that have killed reform in the past. Agri-business and farm workers followed suit with an agreement on the number of blue cards, wages and benefits. And to the credit of Congress, both houses have used bi-partisan efforts to address the issue, with a group of eight senators sharing their plan this week.

I believe that a majority of the American public will affirm comprehensive immigration that is the result of interested parties talking to each other instead of past each other. As we encourage this progress, it is important for all of us to not let perfect become the enemy of good.

Not only am I optimistic that comprehensive immigration reform will pass, I am hopeful that the model of governing used to achieve CIR, with stakeholders compromising to reach common goals by putting aside past agendas and partisan blinders, will become the accepted strategy for our leaders to find success on so many other critical issues facing the nation we love. I encourage you all to cheer Congress on.

And that’s The Business Perspective.

The Business Perspective is a weekly column by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Public Policy staff.

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April 18, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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