Utah business leaders support immigration reform

Posted at 12:49 PM, Apr 09, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY - Business leaders from across Utah have come together to urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year.

Eight presidents of local chambers of commerce targeted Utah's congressional delegation at a press conference held on Tuesday morning, attacking their lack of action over immigration reform.

"I am personally, and extremely disappointed in our two senators. For them to come out and acknowledge they think we need more time is absolutely ridiculous," said Lane Beattie, president of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. "When you have people who have literally looked at these issues now for years stand up and say, 'Oh, maybe we need to slow this process down.' Maybe its time to recall and be able to get some people who understand what we need in business."

The presidents take issue with Sen. Mike Lee's reluctance to back a proposal by the so-called Gang of 8, a group of bipartisan U.S. senators who are working on a bill that would secure US borders, allow tens of thousands of foreign workers into the country and grant eventual citizenship to the estimated one million people living in the country illegally.

Business leaders worry that current immigration laws will continue to hurt the local economy.

"In Utah Valley, we have literally hundreds of job in the technology field that are unfilled right now. Our CEOs of that company down there, their biggest concern is finding and attracting talented, skilled people, especially engineers," said Val Hale, president of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Tony Yapias, a Latino community advocate in Utah, applauds business members and believes Congress is on the right track.

"It takes a lot more than just those 11 million that are here. It's also looking at those that have family members who are on the waiting list, it looks at the high-tech jobs, the agricultural jobs, it looks at the dreamers who are getting their deferred action," Yapias said.

The presidents for the Salt Lake, Utah Valley, Sandy, Davis County, Ogden/Weber, Park City, Cache and St. George Chambers of Commerce were at the press conference.