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News & Press: Arizona Business News Updates

Immigration reform matters to small businesses

Tuesday, August 13, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gabe Salcido
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When we look at the complex and contentious issue of immigration reform, some wonder how big an issue it is to small businesses. The answer is that it’s just as big an issue to America’s small-business community as it is to corporate America.

The consequences of inaction and procrastination are at least the same for all of us, though I can argue that small businesses are more at risk because many don’t have the in-house HR compliance expertise that large employers do.

I speak with many small-business owners and operators from different industries regularly and when we discuss immigration reform, they all express their concerns and frustration with Washington’s inability to act. There is collective agreement that our immigration system is in need of an overhaul, and we see widespread support from business, faith-based and community groups alike, urging Congress to take action.

The political will to tackle immigration reform at the federal level seems to take more than 10 years to develop, as we look back on the events of Sept. 11, which tragically demonstrated that our system of immigration and border security was more inadequate than we wished to believe.

Now, Congress is once again confronted with this big, complex and unpopular issue that has no political safe zone to which members of Congress can retreat.

Although the Gang of Eight’s plan that the Senate passed is far from perfect, we have to applaud Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, and the Senate as a whole, for having the courage to take on this issue.

As the immigration reform battle has shifted to the House, political will seems to be lacking, as it has done nothing to take on the issue since Senate passage of its bill on June 27.

You’ve probably heard the phrase "issues live or die in August” when referring to proposals before Congress. Congress takes the month of August off for its summer recess so members can return home to reconnect with their constituents. What lawmakers hear in August will influence their priorities and determine what they’ll take on when they return to Washington in September. Immigration reform is at a high risk of dying in August, as Congress intends to take on tax and entitlement reform after the break.

Regardless of where we stand on the bill the Senate passed, it would be unfortunate to see the House do nothing and Congress leave us with an immigration system that is inadequate at best.

The Arizona Small Business Association has not taken a position on the Gang of Eight’s plan, but we do have a position on immigration that supports comprehensive reform at the federal level. This position includes a reliable verification system for domestic workers and creates a process to admit foreign workers and strengthens our borders.

Whether the House takes on the Gang of Eight’s plan or slices it into a dozen separate bills, we must push our members in the House to take on immigration reform and not allow this issue to die. During the summer recess, Aug. 5 through Sept. 6, I encourage you to contact your representatives and urge them to take on and debate, immigration reform. They need to hear from us as individuals and businesses to bridge the gap between the isolation of Washington and the realities in our state and communities.

Our inaction in August would lead to their procrastination in September and the following months. We would witness a slow and unfortunate end to the issue of immigration reform as members of Congress begin to ramp up for next year’s midterm election

Jerry Bustamante is senior vice president of public policy and oversees the Southern Arizona office of the Arizona Small Business Association, 4811 E. Grant Road, Suite 262, in Crossroads Festival, Call him at (520) 327-0222.


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