Officials representing the three largest regional organizations and business leaders from all 64 Colorado counties on Tuesday spoke out on the immediate need for immigration reform.
Bonnie Peterson, executive director of Club 20; Cathy Garcia, executive director of Action 22; Cathy Shull, executive director of Progressive 15; and John Brackney, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, hosted a press call to discuss the economic imperative of passing meaningful immigration reform this year and urge lawmakers to support a bipartisan solution that would strengthen America’s economy and create jobs.
Summit County is a member of Club 20, a coalition of individuals, businesses, tribes and local governments representing Colorado’s 22 western counties.
Throughout the call business leaders discussed why Colorado businesses need Congress to act now to address immigration reform.
“We have recognized that our broken immigration system is negatively impacting the business community in western Colorado,” Peterson said during the call. “We have put businesses and employers in an untenable situation, making them immigration enforcers rather than job creators. This is an issue that is a business issue, it’s a jobs issue and we need to do something to address it.”
Of particular importance to those on the call was how the nation’s immigration policy is negatively affecting Colorado’s agriculture industry.
“Agriculture in Colorado is a $40 billion industry and we find that the agriculture industry is being hampered by our broken immigration system,” Shull said during the call. “Farmers, ranchers and dairymen are having a hard time finding a predictable and stable workforce. There continues to be an insufficient number of U.S.-born workers to fill their labor needs.”
Brackney questioned why Congress has not acted on the issue when so many in the business community and other groups are calling loudly for immigration reform. He argued the tone of the debate needs to shift away from politics to ensure success in immigration reform.
“We have to change the cultural dialogue from a political issue of making the other side look bad to more of a business issue or human being issue,” he said. “It’s only when it’s a political issue that it gets stickier and harder to pass something rational because one team or the other is trying to make the other side look bad.”
“We have to change the cultural dialogue from a political issue of making the other side look bad to more of a business issue or human being issue. It’s only when it’s a political issue that it gets stickier and harder to pass something rational because one team or the other is trying to make the other side look bad.”
President of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce