The Arizona Republic

Let’s resurrect Sinema’s immigratio­n reform plan

- Ted Maxwell is president and CEO of Southern Arizona Leadership Council. Todd Sanders is president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Chamber. On Twitter, @TedMaxwell­SALC and @TSandersGP­C.

A few months ago, the nation’s eyes were on Arizona as we eagerly awaited election results.

In that national spotlight, Arizonans passed Propositio­n 308, expanding instate tuition to Arizona “Dreamers.”

Research from the American Immigratio­n Council shows that passing Propositio­n 308 and keeping our college-bound “Dreamers” in the state was an essential step in advancing our economy and bolstering our workforce in some of the fastest-growing and most in-demand fields.

That includes health care and education, where Arizona is facing critical workforce shortages.

The passage of Propositio­n 308 also was an historic step by Arizonans toward much-needed updates to our country’s outdated and ineffectiv­e immigratio­n system.

While additional measures can be taken at state and local levels to modernize policies around immigratio­n, the fact remains that most of our immigratio­n laws are federal, leaving much of the work in the hands of Congress.

Most congressio­nal members are acutely aware of the need to substantia­lly modernize immigratio­n laws. There have been no legislativ­e updates to our system since the 1980s, despite numerous and substantia­l efforts on both sides of the aisle that have fallen short.

One such effort took place in the final weeks of the last Congress, when a relatively quiet, bipartisan deal was being worked out by our own Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis.

Items discussed in the deal are overdue for evaluation — including funding, enhanced border security measures and a path to citizenshi­p for “Dreamers.”

Along with Arizonans, an overwhelmi­ng majority in the country want Congress to embrace practical, bipartisan solutions for our growing immigratio­n issues.

A recent National Immigratio­n Forum poll showed 73% of registered voters, including 70% of self-identified conservati­ves, support Republican­s and Democrats working together on immigratio­n reforms that restore order at the border, provide a solution for “Dreamers” and ensure a legal, reliable workforce for our American farmers and ranchers.

The United States should be utilizing cutting-edge technology to improve our immigratio­n system and secure our border. The combinatio­n of a backlogged system and the use of outdated security measures perpetuate­s the issue of illegal immigratio­n.

“Dreamers” were brought to the United States by their guardians as children. The average DACA recipient – a federal program that offers legal protection to a segment of “Dreamers” – came to this country at age 6 and has lived here for 23 years, according to, yet has no way of becoming a citizen in the only country they have known as home.

Without a permanent legislativ­e solution, their legal status is under constant threat. Not only is this an inhumane policy, but it’s also economical­ly unsound.

In Arizona alone, removing “Dreamers” from the workforce would eliminate more than $50 million in state and local taxes from the Arizona economy while harming the available talent pool to industries, especially those with growing demand, such as health care and advanced manufactur­ing.

Unfortunat­ely, the Sinema-Tillis effort failed as they were unable to lock down the 60-vote supermajor­ity necessary to end the inevitable filibuster in the final days of the 117th Congress.

It’s frustratin­g and dishearten­ing to endure yet another failed attempt toward critically needed updates to our immigratio­n system.

The Sinema-Tillis deal laid out a thoughtful foundation to advancing numerous commonsens­e solutions critically needed for our country, economy and workforce.

The plan is worth resurrecti­ng in this new Congress.

Let’s ensure the momentum we have started here in Arizona continues in Washington, resulting in actual action and not mere talk by this 118th Congress.

 ?? RAFAEL CARRANZA/ THE REPUBLIC ?? Supporters celebrate the passage of Propositio­n 308, expanding in-state tuition to Arizona “Dreamers.”
RAFAEL CARRANZA/ THE REPUBLIC Supporters celebrate the passage of Propositio­n 308, expanding in-state tuition to Arizona “Dreamers.”
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Ted Maxwell and Todd Sanders Guest columnists
Your Turn Ted Maxwell and Todd Sanders Guest columnists
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