“This is going to hurt us in the real world” if Congress fails to act. – ABIC Co-Chair and Former Republican Arizona State Senator Bob Worsely
Watch video of news conference here:
WASHINGTON, DC – During a press call Friday, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and members of the bipartisan American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) issued strong warnings to Congress that labor shortages and rising costs to consumers in the current economy will only worsen unless immigration reforms are passed immediately.
Industry leaders, representing agriculture, construction, food production, and business development, from Arizona, Maine, Oregon, and South Carolina shared real world examples of how the labor shortages that have worsened over the last two decades are contributing to higher inflation.
Part of the solution is for the Democratic-led Senate to disregard the incorrect opinions of the Senate Parliamentarian, a Senate staffer, who opposes including immigration reforms to the House-passed Build Back Better Bill, said ABIC Executive Director Rebecca Shi.
“The ongoing shortage of workers is causing problems for businesses as well as consumers,” Shi said. “One immediate solution is immigration. Immigrants are willing to fill these jobs, are willing to go to where the jobs are, and are willing to do it now,” Shi added.
“The Democrats have to grow a spine and do this,” said ABIC Co-Chair Bob Worsley, former Arizona Republican State Senator, and founder of SkyMall and ZenniHome. “Disregard the parliamentarian and get this bill done. This is going to kill us in the real world, with inflation and a lack of workers in almost every field — in hospitality and health care — everywhere, we’re hurting for workers. They need to get this done,” Worsley added.
Congressman Schneider said the Senate “is fundamentally broken and increasingly undemocratic,” with a parliamentarian having the authority to interpret the budget rules to the point of excluding immigration reforms.
“Our businesses are counting on it and our communities are depending on it. And the Senate, quite simply, isn’t delivering” on reforms that have bipartisan support, the congressman said. “If the Republicans in the Senate were truly interested in solving America’s problems, the actions of the parliamentarian last night wouldn’t be an issue. We wouldn’t have to ask for extraordinary actions,” Schneider added, about calls to reject the parliamentarians opinion.”
Nonetheless, business leaders note changing workforce dynamics, such as baby boomers aging out, and lessened public school training of future trades, that are contributing to the labor shortages and higher prices for consumers.
“If we can’t begin to solve this problem by hiring the current undocumented immigrants in filling this gap in the workforce, this gap is only going to get worse,” said J. Doug Pruitt, retired Chairman & CEO of Sundt Construction. “We are going to have to fill this gap with people who are here, people who have been here for a long time who contributed to this society, and create a vehicle where they can come out of the shadows and have a legal pathway to citizenship,” Pruitt said.
“All we ask is, ‘Congress do your job. Do what you were sent there to do. Have the courage to finally pass immigration reform in this country. It’s a significant problem and it will not get better, it’s only going to get worse,” Pruitt warned.
“Hospitality (industry) along South Carolina’s beaches is hurting dramatically because of the labor shortage,” said Frank Knapp, President and CEO, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.
“This is not about training our way out of the labor shortage, we need more people in the labor pool,” Knapp clarified. “We have millions of immigrants in this country who want to contribute to our economy and labor force. And we have hundreds of thousands of immigrants in other countries who want to come here legally,” Knapp added. ”So, it’s time for senators to stop talking and do something. They should ignore the opinion of the parliamentarian and pass the reconciliation bill with all the immigration reform which will result in economic growth and more taxes paid to the federal government. And then, get to work on increasing legal immigration.”
In a video recorded in his agricultural fields with workers in the background Shay Myers, CEO of Owyhee Produce located on the Idaho and Oregon border, also urged immediate congressional approval of immigration reform.
“There is no reason to keep these workers in the background. They do work that is valuable and needed, …they contribute to our economy and contribute to our culture and they make a difference. I have had the honor and privilege of working side-by-side with these folks for my entire life and I can assure you that they get the short end of the stick. It’s time to wake up. It’s time for us to stop delaying and actually do something; take action on immigration,” Myers said.
ABIC Board Member David Barber of Maine, former President and CEO of Barber Foods that was assumed by Tyson Foods and now is a business development specialist, called on the Senate to “reject the parliamentarian’s advisory opinion and take action for our communities, families, and our economy. While Americans continue to grapple with the Coronavirus, an estimated 650,000 TPS holders are helping to support the nation by serving as essential workers.” Barber also noted that many of Tyson’s workers are TPS holders. “They are vital to our company and our communities. and they deserve a permanent solution rather than being kept in limbo.” Barber added.
“I import seafood from Waima, Sonoma, Mexico to Arizona; I do wholesale to 16 restaurants in Arizona in Phoenix a location, in Mesa a location and opening a location in Tucson. My businesses are growing up so fast and I’m trying to expand my business to California and also to Nevada,” said Arizona business owner and entrepreneur Irayda Flores, owner of Pescaderia El Puerto de Guaymas, who is directly impacted and provides jobs to more than fifteen Arizonans. “I am contributing to this country and contributing to the economy. All I need is the power to work and stay because I am growing the business and contributing to this economy,” Flores said.