ST. GEORGE – A group of Utah mayors united together today in a letter addressed to Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, asking them to urge Congress not to delay and to act on passing much needed immigration reform this year. St. George Mayor Dan McArthur was among those signatory to the letter.
The mayors urged Hatch and Lee to work with their senate colleagues to pass sensible immigration reform immediately. According to the mayors’ press release, they applauded the recent efforts by Hatch for his leadership on voting in support of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration legislation as it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.
They emphasized the growing consensus that Congress must work together to develop a solution that ensures a modernized immigration system in order to continue to attract the best and brightest to our shores and ensure we have enough workers to sustain our economy and remain competitive.
The arguments raised by the mayors in their letter included in brief:
• Utah’s colleges and universities train students from around the globe into top minds that then cannot hire those graduates for often times as much as a decade while they are returned to their native countries and pursue a proper U.S. residency or work visas.
• Utah is largely rural with many family run farms that cannot effectively harvest without a labor force that a more flexible work visa program would accommodate.
• Utah’s tourism economy functions seasonally and suffers for lack of a labor force that a more flexible work visa program would accommodate.
A copy of the Mayor’s letter may be viewed in its entirety here.
It is important, the mayors’ press release said, that a modern immigration system: attracts and retains the world’s top innovators and entrepreneurs; recruits talented workers needed to fill gaps in high- and low-skilled sectors of the economy; brings 11 million undocumented immigrants into the legal economy so they can pay taxes, attain better education, and contribute more to U.S. economic growth; develop a state-of-the-art system to ensure immigration laws are enforced and obeyed: and ensure that the immigration system is easy to understand, easy to navigate, and easy to implement.
Response from Lee
Lee issued the following response:
“I appreciate the letter I received from several of Utah’s mayors urging action on immigration reform, and I could not agree more. Our current immigration system serves neither America’s economic or social interests and undermines respect for the rule of law. That’s why I have sponsored or cosponsored several reforms, both as stand-alone legislation and amendments to the current Senate proposal, that would improve high-skilled immigration, address agricultural and seasonal workers, and create new incentives for tourism – many of which enjoy bipartisan support.
“I firmly believe that we can achieve real comprehensive reform without having to pass another thousand-page bill full of loopholes, carve-outs, and unintended consequences. In fact, the only way to guarantee successful reform of the entire system, and ensure we are not repeating the mistakes of the past, is through a series of incremental steps that ensure the foundational pieces – like border security and an effective entry-exit system – are done properly.
“A step-by-step approach also allows Congress to move quickly on measures where Republicans and Democrats agree. Reforms that share bipartisan support should not be held hostage to unavoidably contentious issues.
“I look forward to continuing a dialogue with Utah’s state and local leaders on the critical issue of immigration reform. Progress on this issue is vital to our economy and security.”