California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg recently issued a statement renewing the call for comprehensive immigration reform in light of the announcement that the federal government will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The DACA program was created in June 2012 and allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on September 5 that the Department of Homeland Security will terminate the DACA program. It will expire on March 5, 2018.
“CalChamber has been a steadfast proponent of comprehensive immigration reform because it is crucial to California’s economic future,” said Zaremberg. “The announcement by Attorney General Sessions highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform once again and emphasizes the need for an immediate bipartisan solution to provide certain legal status for Dreamers. DACA has shown us that certainty in legal status fosters success in education, employment and job creation. It is a roadmap to achievement if we provide legal certainty for California’s more than 2.5 million undocumented residents.”
More at Risk
California has more at risk than other states. There are nearly 800,000 workers and students enrolled in DACA in the United States. About 200,000 of those individuals are Californians. The end result of uprooting 200,000 Californians, 95% of whom are gainfully employed or enrolled in college, would create change for which the state is unprepared.
“Congress must act swiftly to address this issue so we aren’t left with a problem of losing productive tax-paying jobs,” Zaremberg said.
Zaremberg continued, “An important aspect of California’s economy is our booming technology industry, which relies on highly skilled talent to innovate, design, manufacture, create jobs and enable success in the global marketplace. As things stand today, California cannot find enough ‘home grown’ engineers and scientists. We need to reform our inadequate H-1B visa program. Without reform, our jobs leave for offshore locations, which would not be a good outcome for the state.”
Multiple Sectors Benefit
Many sectors of California’s economy will benefit from immigration reform. “In addition to the technology sector, the agricultural industry would benefit from the certainty created through comprehensive immigration reform,” Zaremberg said.
“We need a bipartisan solution that will provide a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers,” Zaremberg concluded. “We need to preserve California’s workforce and our ability to compete in the global economy. Comprehensive immigration reform will bring certainty to employers, employees and families.”