Immigration Reform is Important to California

Allan Zaremberg
President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce

In a letter sent yesterday to members of Congress, I joined with more than 20 local chamber of commerce executives from throughout California urging action on national immigration reform.

Four significant issues critical to our citizens and employers are why immigration reform is more important to California than any other state.  These issues include H-1B visas, the temporary worker program, enhancing border security in a way that does not hamper trade with Mexico, and resolving uncertainty over the legal status of the largest undocumented population in the country.

California is home to the technology industry, which relies on highly skilled talent to innovate, design, manufacture, create jobs and grow the economy to enable success in the global marketplace.  Currently, employers cannot find enough “home grown” engineers and scientists and are urging reform of the inadequate H-1B visa program.

Stated in the letter, “If the industry can’t find and bring enough skilled workers to California, they will go to where the engineers and scientists live – most likely offshore, which would not be a good outcome for the state.”

In addition, California’s unique and successful agriculture industry needs a temporary worker program that will provide a predictable workforce. The letter states, “Immigration reform should bring certainty to employers, employees and families.”

California is also home to about 23% of the nation’s undocumented immigrants, half of which have lived here for over ten years.   Local chamber executives and I believe uncertainty over the legal status of so many undocumented immigrants in the state is a drag on the economy.  According to the letter, “resolving the issue would stimulate consumer spending and investment.”

Finally, while border security is necessary to accomplish comprehensive reforms, it must be done in a way that protects legitimate commerce and travel.  Mexico is California’s number one export partner.

A copy of the letter and a list of all participating local chambers is available here.

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