Southwest California Businesses for Responsible Immigration Reform
The Temecula Valley, Murrieta and Lake Elsinore Valley Chambers of Commerce are supporting immigration reform policy that is responsible and meets the needs of our region and state. Specifically, the Southwest California Legislative Council (SWCLC) will support immigration reform proposals that:
– Creates a guest worker program that is comprehensive, addressing both future economic needs for workers and the status of undocumented workers already in the United States.
– Strengthens national security by providing for thorough screening of foreign workers and creating strong disincentives for illegal immigration.
– Creates an employment verification system that is fast and reliable
– Ensures that all workers enjoy the same labor law protections. Only by bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows can we protect them from unscrupulous employers who might exploit them.
– Ensures that all documented workers can demonstrate a knowledge of English language and American civic requirements
“Our immigration system is broken,” asserted Joan Sparkman, Chair of the SWCLC, “so to fix it, a comprehensive approach is needed because it is easier to enforce laws that make sense and can work.”
The U.S. House of Representatives has not touched immigration laws since 1986. A bill passed by the House in late 2005 (H.R. 4437) would require all employers of all sizes from all parts of the country to verify that every one of their current employees is eligible to work here; that would include documentation for 140 million people. It is estimated that penalties and paperwork violations could cost up to $25,000 per person. The Senate later killed the bill. U.S. Congress is now looking for a comprehensible answer to immigration reform.
There is an estimated 10-12 million undocumented migrants in the United States right now. The vast majority are working regularly, paying taxes, and supporting their families. They play vital roles in many important industries where we live in one of the largest agricultural producing counties in the entire world. Agriculture supports 1.1 million jobs, nearly 8 percent of all jobs in California.
In late May 2006, the US Senate passed S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006. The bill is designed to improve security and border enforcement, it increases employer sanctions for knowingly hiring illegal aliens and establishes an employment eligibility confirmation system. The bill addresses the country’s need for workers by creating a new temporary worker program and implements a workable way to deal with the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. by providing avenues for certain undocumented workers to achieve legal status and ultimately lawful permanent residency, provided strict criteria are met.