The Dallas Morning News has an excellent op-ed piece today from a group of influential business leaders. Normally I strongly disagree with the political opinions of most of these businessmen, but they make very good points in this recommendation for Congress to pass a sensible immigration reform bill. Here are a few exerpts from the article:
Often, in the middle of a heated debate, people forget exactly what they’re arguing about. But we employers on the front lines of American business cannot forget – we know why the nation must come to grips with illegal immigration. We know that Americans must face up to the reality of the foreign workers we need to keep the economy growing and bring them under the rule of law, for their sake and ours.
It’s not that Americans don’t work hard. They do. But the native-born workforce is changing rapidly. In 1960, half of all American men dropped out of high school and looked for unskilled work; today, less than 10 percent do. Baby boomers are retiring. Fertility rates are declining. Yet every year, the economy creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs that require few if any skills, and in the next decade, we will be millions of workers short.
Not all employers mean well, of course. Some companies exploit illegal immigrants. But most who turn to foreign workers do so out of necessity. We aren’t looking for “cheap labor.” We’re looking for available labor, period – and for some businesses, the choice is to hire immigrants or close shop.
You hear the same story across the U.S. A relatively small number of foreign workers keeps millions of native-born Americans employed. This, in turn, keeps the economy growing, and we all share in the prosperity that results.
Not only that, but immigrant workers renew and reinvigorate America. They remind us what it’s like to give a job your all. We talk about old-fashioned family values; they live them. And those of us who cherish our faith and love our country can only rejoice at their devotion to both.
We understand that this will include workplace enforcement. In fact, we welcome reform that gives us the tools to stay on the right side of the law. The important thing is that this vital part of the economy be brought under the rule and protection of the law.
Neither the immigrants here today nor those we will need in the future should have to live in the shadows. These are good people with good values doing work that we need done, reaching for the American Dream and helping make it a reality for all. As we value the work, let us value the worker – and let’s fix the law so that it serves all Americans.