We didn’t have to wait long for the first sign of good news for immigration reform in 2014.
On New Year’s Day, The New York Times summed it up with this headline: “Boehner Is Said to Back Change on Immigration.”
The immigration debate increasingly centers on the positive impact immigrants have on the economy and the jobs they create in communities across the country. This year, acting on immigration reform is one of the best things Congress and the president could do to spur the economy and create jobs.
Regional Economic Models Inc. estimates that expanding the H-1B Visa program would add 790 new high-skilled professionals to Arizona’s economy in 2014. This would create a domino effect and result in more than 3,200 total new jobs this year and roughly 5,900 by 2020. Additionally, it would increase the Gross State Product by more than $296 million this year.
Immigration reform will do more than just benefit Arizona — it will benefit the entire country. According to the Congressional Budget Office analysis, comprehensive immigration reform would reduce the deficit by $197 billion over the next decade and $700 billion in the next 20 years.
Last fall, we traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of a large business, faith and law enforcement coalition to urge Congress to act on immigration reform legislation. Business leaders are working with congressional members to ensure immigration reform remains a top priority for action in Congress. During our visit, the coalition met with each of Arizona’s nine representatives. The overwhelming support from the business community on this issue is recognized, and our coalition was well received by our Arizona congressional delegates.
Our Arizona delegates know this issue well. We are thankful for Rep. Matt Salmon and his years of experience on this issue, and also thank each of our House members who have met in earnest with our senators and House leadership to move this issue toward the finish line.
In order to ensure the competitive standing and economic strength of Arizona and the United States, we must have a robust and fair process that promotes legal immigration while securing our nation’s borders.
In this New Year there is recognition from House leadership that this issue must be acted on.
Moving forward, we need a majority in the Senate and the administration to show that they are willing to be honest brokers with the House. This will go a long way to building the trust needed to make progress on this issue. Only with trust that the Senate and the administration won’t make a political issue out of an eventual conference committee will the House be willing to pass what it can and move forward.
Step by step, piece by piece, with the support of business and community leaders, we can build an immigration system that will support our nation’s values and goals, while ensuring that our country is globally competitive and positioned for a prosperous future.
— Scott Celley is principal of Trifecta Communications and a board member of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Russell Johnson is president & CEO of Merchants Information Solutions Inc. and a board member of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. Chad Heinrich is vice president of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.