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Chamber pledges support for Iowa Compact on Immigration

February 25, 2019 at 12:29 PM

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On Monday the Chamber joined forces with more than 30 business, industry and economic leaders in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City business community to help launch the Iowa Compact on Immigration, a set of principles that outline the need for smart immigration policies at the state and federal levels to drive Iowa’s economy forward.

The Compact’s principles outline six areas of focus for immigration reform legislation. Monday’s press conference featured representatives from the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids (ICR IOWA) regional business community and Compact signatories. As signers of the Iowa Compact on Immigration, the Chamber is committed to promoting common-sense immigration reforms that will strengthen our economy, as well as attract talent and business to our state.

With the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, we recognize the critical role immigration will play in driving continued economic growth. In 2017 alone, immigrants in Iowa contributed $390 million in state and local taxes and held $3.4 billion in spending power. Our ability to attract new citizens, will be a key to keeping our workforce young and competitive in some of our state’s most important industries, from agriculture and manufacturing to science, technology, engineering, and math.

Therefore, we support bipartisan immigration policy reforms that ensure our federal system meets the needs of our employers and labor market; will provide a permanent solution for undocumented Iowans who make significant contributions to our state’s economy; and secure our southern border while enforcing our nation’s laws. Iowa’s immigration policies must reflect and reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming, hospitable, and business-friendly state.

We urge state leaders and our national congressional delegation to adopt these six principles of the Iowa Compact on Immigration to guide the immigration discussion in our state.

1. FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY: Immigration policy is a federal issue between the U.S. government and other countries. We urge our Iowa congressional delegation to work to enact immigration policy at the federal level that improves our immigration system, keeps our communities safe, and protects our borders.

2. STRENGTHENING OUR ECONOMY & WORKFORCE: For our state economy to grow and compete, Iowa needs a robust workforce and policies that prioritize attracting and retaining international talent. Our immigration system must be flexible enough to address the needs of businesses while protecting the interests of workers. This includes a visa system that is both responsive to and effective at meeting the demands of our economy and the industries that drive growth in our state.

3. A COMMON SENSE APPROACH: Immigrants have always been and remain an important part of our communities across Iowa. We must adopt a common sense approach to immigration that reflects our long-established values and recognizes the critical role immigration has played in both our state’s, as well as our nation’s history and economy. Our immigration policies must provide a sensible path forward for immigrants wishing to come to our country and a permanent resolution for those who are of good character, pay taxes, and are committed to becoming fully participating members of our society and culture, but lack legal status.

4. EFFECTIVE ENFORCEMENT: We support a law enforcement strategy that focuses on public safety, targets serious crime, and safeguards witnesses and victims. We further urge a reasonable and predictable regulatory environment that considers the interests of, and unintended consequences to businesses, the workforce, and consumers. Furthermore, the broader reform effort should eventually include a way to accurately, reliably, and affordably determine who is permitted to work, ensuring an adequate workforce for a growing economy.

5. FAMILY: Strong families are critical to developing successful individuals and cohesive communities. Our immigration policies, where possible, should prioritize keeping families together in order to ensure the most supportive home environments for all children across our state.

6. COMPETITIVE COMMUNITIES: We recognize that the communities that are able to attract a competitive workforce will continue to grow and those communities are generally the ones who embrace and welcome new citizens. We support local policies that create an environment that ensures that all residents have the tools and opportunities they need to succeed.

The Iowa Compact on Immigration is an intiative for the New American Economy. Read more about the Compact and see list of signatories at www.iacompact.org.