De­por­ta­tion de­cried

Ex­ec­u­tives in Colorado ad­vo­cate for poli­cies that ad­vance econ­omy

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Em­i­lie Rusch

Busi­ness lead­ers in Colorado have a mes­sage for the in­com­ing Congress: Re­spon­si­ble, “com­mon sense” im­mi­gra­tion re­form is over­due — and that doesn’t mean the mass de­por­ta­tions floated by Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump.

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity to get the im­mi­gra­tion re­form we need for our econ­omy right,” said Mizraim Cordero, vice pres­i­dent of gov­ern­ment af­fairs for the Den­ver Metro Cham­ber of Com­merce. “There should be less focus on a broader de­por­ta­tion ef­fort and more focus put on what are the poli­cies that will move our econ­omy for­ward.”

A broad coali­tion of busi­ness and com­mu­nity lead­ers gath­ered Tues­day to launch Coloradans for Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form, an ini­tia­tive of the Part­ner­ship for a New Amer­i­can Econ­omy, a na­tional bi­par­ti­san or­ga­ni­za­tion that sup­ports com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form.

In ad­di­tion to the Den­ver Metro Cham­ber of Com­merce, coali­tion mem­bers in­clude Colorado Farm Bu­reau, Colorado Ho­tel and Lodg­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, Colorado Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion, As­so­ci­ated Gen­eral Con­trac­tors of Colorado, As­so­ci­ated Builders and Con­trac­tors Rocky Moun­tain, Colorado Dairy Farm­ers, Asian Cham­ber of Com­merce, Colorado Busi­ness Round­table, Colorado Com­pet­i­tive Coun­cil, Moun­tain West Credit Union As­so­ci­a­tion, Pro 15 and South Den­ver Metro Cham­ber of Com­merce.

On a na­tional level, News Corp. chair­man Ru­pert Mur­doch, for­mer New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dis­ney CEO Bob Iger and lead­ers at Boe­ing and Mar­riott are among the part­ner­ship’s co-chairs.

“It’s time to re­ally put a spot­light on this par­tic­u­lar is­sue and start to drive re­al­is­tic ideas that put for­ward a plan for true re­form,” said Jeff Was­den, pres­i­dent of the Colorado Busi­ness Round­table. “It’s not build­ing walls. It’s cre­at­ing the types of poli­cies and putting things in place that ac­tu­ally get to the root cause of the prob­lems.”

The coali­tion is ad­vo­cat­ing for a wide va­ri­ety of re­forms, in­clud­ing ef­forts to se­cure U.S. borders, stream­line pro­cesses for em­ploy­ers to both get for­eign work­ers and ver­ify em­ploy­ment el­i­gi­bil­ity, and to cre­ate a path to le­gal sta­tus for un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

In Colorado, im­mi­grants make up 10 per­cent of the state’s pop­u­la­tion and paid $1 bil­lion in taxes in 2014, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study by NAE.

The state’s agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers con­tinue to strug­gle to get work­ers when they need them un­der the cur­rent “bro­ken” sys­tem, said Chad Vorth­mann, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Colorado Farm Bu­reau.

“If the United States had a vi­able guest agri­cul­tural worker pro­gram, farm­ers and ranch­ers could get the la­bor they need. In­stead, they’re all too often caught in a bu­reau­cratic night­mare,” he said. “This night­mare that Colorado farm­ers and ranch­ers face is a cur­rent im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that re­sponds to re­quests far too slowly, fails to fol­low visa hold­ers through ex­pi­ra­tion and turns away high- and low-skilled work­ers far too often.”

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