Last week, California’s two United States Senators–Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer–joined with over two-thirds of the United States Senate to pass comprehensive immigration reform–legislation that is probably more important to California’s economy than that of any other state.
Now it is time for California’s congressional delegation to take the lead to ensure that California’s critical industries have the workers and talent they need to create necessary California jobs. Technology, agriculture, and tourism, among others, must have comprehensive immigration reform to thrive.
Unfortunately, it appears the US House members from states who have no economic stake in the outcome of immigration reform are dominating the debate on this crucial issue. California’s House members need to protect California’s economy and be the dominant voice on immigration reform.
California’s economy needs more visas for skilled technology workers or the programs will go elsewhere. Our agriculture industry needs a robust temporary worker program. Strong border security will be essential to a final solution, but it must not destroy our commercial relationship with California’s number one export partner, Mexico. Finally, California’s economic growth is stifled by the uncertain status of 2.6 million residents here who do not have legal status, half of whom have been in California for over ten years.
One week from today, the House is scheduled to meet to attempt to find common ground on immigration. California companies and their employees need to contact members of the California delegation now and urge them to lead the effort for real reform.
Specifically, CalChamber and a large coalition of local chambers of commerce support the following comprehensive reform principles:
* Strong border security without jeopardizing trade with Mexico (California’s largest trading partner);
* A temporary worker program that meets the needs of employers for both high and low skilled jobs that cannot be filled by U.S. workers.
* Strict enforcement of employment verification;
* An earned pathway to legal status.
While I am heartened that the Senate has taken action, we must continue the fight to get immigration reform done this year. This is one of the most compelling challenges of our time. America – and particularly California — cannot compete and win in a global economy without attracting and retaining a talented workforce of big dreamers.