As Utah Struggles With Labor Shortages, Business & Civic Leaders and Dreamers Call On Sens. Romney and Lee to Back Bipartisan Immigration Bills
Link to recording here: https://bit.ly/3wGRzNe
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Utah business and civic leaders along with Dreamers cited economic and moral imperatives yesterday to urge Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee to back the bipartisan Durbin-Graham DREAM Act of 2021 along with the Bennett-Crapo Senate companion bill to the House’s Farm Workforce Modernization Act, and to cosponsor the SECURE Act.
During a news conference at the World Trade Center Utah, speakers noted the crucial role that immigrant workers are playing in Utah as the state copes with a chronic labor shortage exacerbated by the pandemic.
The American Business Immigration Coalition’s Intermountain Chapter, the Salt Lake City Chamber, New American Economy, the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association, the Utah World Trade Center, Comunidades Unidas, and Mormon Women for Ethical Government sponsored the event, which also included Dreamer Enrique Sanchez, a civilian employee for the Park City Police Department.
The following are key comments from the news conference:
Bob Worsley, Former Republican Arizona State Senator, ABIC Co-Chair and Founder of SkyMall: “We need (Congress) to implement the DREAM Act. We need the farmworker bill passed, and we need the SECURE Act passed as soon as possible. We must change the discourse in America about immigration. Sen. Romney is pushing higher birth rates and trying to get people to have more children, but that’s a 20 year solution even if he is successful today. We need immigrants today. That’s our bridge to get to what Sen. Romney is trying to do.”
Rep. Robert Spendlove, Utah State Representative: “(Immigrants) play a vital role in the Utah economy…we encourage our state delegation to be a part of this bipartisan solution.”
Enrique Sanchez, Dreamer and Civilian Employee for the Park City Police Department: “I’ve had the dream of becoming a police officer since I was in second-grade. Unfortunately, as I grew up, I was not able to do that, and today I have an opportunity to work in the Police Department in a civilian position. What’s holding me back is U.S. citizenship. I’m an American in every single way except for on paper, and the DREAM Act will help change the lives of many, including myself. I call on both Sen. Mitt Romney and Sen. Mike Lee to help pass the DREAM Act.”
Miles Hansen, President and CEO, World Trade Center Utah: (Immigrants have always had a major impact on the national and Utah economy), “and that is true all the time, but especially right now…Immigration is one of the key gateways for Utah’s international engagement and is essential to our economy.”
Derek Miller, President and CEO, SLC Chamber of Commerce: “Employers across the state cannot find enough employees…Immigrants in Utah are entrepreneurs, they are teachers, they are leaders and part of our family. They contribute billions of dollars in economic activity and brighten the landscape of our state. Utah is a place of compromise and goodwill, and we call upon these virtues to be a guide to our national leaders. Our call to action today is to…work together towards broad-based, bipartisan solutions on immigration.”
Michele Corigliano, Executive Director, Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association: “We’ve also seen Dreamers hesitant to take jobs until their status is secured. That also works against our owners…We’re asking Senator Romney and Senator Lee to support bipartisan immigration reform, not yesterday, not 10 months from now. We need it immediately and we needed this six months ago, and we are begging for some change to happen.”
Mikhail Shneyder, President and CEO, Nightingale College: “It is clear to me that immigrants, people like me, are willing to work very hard if given an opportunity to pursue their dreams and ambitions, and hence, relentlessly contribute to our nation’s prosperity. I therefore urge Senator Lee and Senator Romney to support the bipartisan immigration reform efforts.”
Mayra Cedano, Former Dreamer & Executive Director of Comunidades Unidas: “When this country called on our workers to step up and support their communities as frontline essential workers, undocumented immigrant workers were there….Immigrant essential workers have continuously put their health and that of their families on the line to keep all of us protected….We can’t be both deportable and essential.”
Dave Morris, owner of restaurants including Piper Down, Ice Haus and Harp & Hound: “I can’t get enough people to work, because we just don’t have enough people. We need people now… Senator Lee, Senator Romney, give us a way to get people here.”
The American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) Intermountain Chapter represents a growing group of business, faith, and immigrant advocates from Arizona, Utah, Colorado and Nevada. Home to over 2 million immigrants, our Intermountain region benefits by almost $100 billion annually from the economic contributions and talents of these individuals, and we believe that with the right legislative solutions, they will continue to play a key role in our economy and our region’s future.
The American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and citizens.