Local leaders from Utah came together for a Day of Action to showcase new research on immigration contributions in Utah and highlight the critical need for immigration reform.
The event marked the launch of theReason for Reform campaign, an effort taking place in all 50 states today, sponsored by the Partnership for a New American Economy (NAE).
The Reason for Reform campaign brings together state business, civic, and cultural leaders to urge Congress to take action on immigration reform. Today’s Day of Action roundtable event coincides with the release of new research, including data on the foreign-born population in Utah, their tax contributions, their spending power, and their role in Utah’s key industries as leaders and job creators. Today, NAE is also launching a new mobile tool that lets users make a video telling their Reason for Reform. Videos will be sent directly to Congress. Check out the tool here.
“It is important that Utah attracts and retains the world’s top innovators and entrepreneurs. Currently, Utah has a very vibrant and growing technology community that needs high-skilled workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Stan Parrish, President and CEO, Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce. “Granting visas to scientists, technology graduates, engineers, mathematicians, and other innovators, especially those who train at top U.S. universities, is the right thing to do in order to remain economically competitive in a global economy. Today’s immigration laws are not written for today’s Utah businesses. A modern economy needs modern immigration laws and Congress needs to act.”
“For any small business owner, having some predictability with labor costs is important. For farmers, it’s absolutely critical. There is already enough unpredictability with weather, markets, and other government regulations, finding a solution to our labor needs shouldn’t be added on top of this,” said Jake Harward, Owner, Harward Farms. “Reforms to the immigration system can make sure that American agriculture has a legal, stable supply of workers, both in the short- and long-term, for all types of agriculture. Multiple H-2A visa changes and rigid program administration have made use of an already difficult program nearly impossible. I personally had to deal with a multiple-week delay this year, which will have a definite impact on my bottom line. The crops we grow simply will not wait while we deal with labor delays and shortages. I urge Congress and the Administration to find a solution that works for the unique demands of agriculture.”
The Contributions of New Americans in Utah shows that immigrants make up 8.6 percent of the state’s population and contributed $1.2 billion in taxes, or 7.1 percent of the total share in 2014. That same year, immigrants earned $5.2 billion, or roughly seven percent of all earnings in the state.
Immigrants in Utah contribute to key industries such as medical equipment and supplies, traveler accommodation, and manufacturing. They make up over 11 percent of all entrepreneurs in the state, and play a large role in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, a major component of U.S. economic growth. These and other key statistics on immigrants in Utah can be found in the NAE report here.
“Immigration touches the life of every American. Immigrants flock to the restaurant industry because it represents a uniquely powerful option for economic advancement,” saidMelva Sine, President, Utah Restaurant Association. “Eighty percent of restaurant owners started out as hourly employees. The industry gives individuals of all backgrounds the chance to achieve the American dream. But without meaningful immigration reform, this industry — and many others — simply can’t continue to contribute to the economy as it does today.”
The Reason for Reform campaign is launching in all 50 states today to urge Congress to take action on immigration reform. More information can be found atwww.RenewOurEconomy.org.