The California Chamber of Commerce has a longstanding position as a proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, which is crucial to California’s economic future.
California is home to nearly 3 million residents who are undocumented immigrants, but working and contributing to society. The state also has numerous economic sectors that are very dependent on immigrant labor, including the technology, agriculture and tourism industries.
Although the CalChamber has had the position for many years, it hasn’t highlighted immigration policy since 2013, when the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan, comprehensive reform legislation and the CalChamber was working hard to persuade the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a similar bill. Lack of consensus left the issue unresolved to this day.
An essential component of comprehensive immigration reform has always been stronger border security—for both political and policy reasons.
It is time to highlight the issue again because it appears that border security may be moving forward, and without the other essential pieces to comprehensive immigration reform, California’s economy could be in jeopardy.
The agricultural industry may suffer as workers are unable to move freely back and forth across borders. The technology industry will miss the H-1B visa program and could have to move facilities elsewhere in the world to attract the best talent.
“Today is no different than three-and-a-half years ago. Once again immigration policy appears to be dominated by those states that have no stake in the outcome,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg. “We call on the California congressional delegation to protect California industries and push for comprehensive reform.”
CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg highlighted the importance of immigration reform to the California economy in a July 2013 CalChamber News video. The reform principles spotlighted in the video remain relevant today.
The following comprehensive reform principles are essential to California’s economy:
• 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.