SEATTLE, WA – President Obama, in his fifth State of the Union (SOTU) address on Tuesday, said “let’s get immigration reform done this year.” Leaders from the Washington Compact, representing business, faith and agriculture, held a press conference at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to say 2014 is the year of immigration reform.
Eric Schinfield, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Chamber views immigration reform as a global competitiveness issue. Our current system is broken and without smart reform, we will lose top workforce talent to other countries. There is a critical need to reform work visa programs to ensure that Washington State industries from high-tech to agriculture have access to the skilled labor they need now and in the future.”
Luke Williams, World Relief, said: “This year must bring bipartisan legislation that respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects the unity of families, and respects the rule of law. I have joined hundreds of faith leaders and tens of thousands of Christians across the country in committing to pray for the men and women who serve in Congress to have wisdom and courage as they address this issue justly and compassionately.”
Mike Gempler, Washington Growers League, said: “Washington State agriculture has experienced labor shortages the past several years, and all indications are that it will continue and get worse without reform of immigration laws. Any bill that is passed into law must consider what kind of workforce is needed to support industries like agriculture in the future and how we are going to achieve it.”
Rich Stolz, OneAmerica, said: “This time, the debate is different. Leaders on both sides of the aisle are willing to rise above partisan politics and take action. Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate have engaged in thoughtful discussions and negotiations, bringing us closer to reform than ever before. We must move forward on what all of us care about: passage of fair and practical reforms.”
Asked about what they would say to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who gave the GOP response to the SOTU, Mike Gempler responded, “It’s bigger than enforcement and border security. We’re interested in securing a workforce to protect Washington State’s economy. It’s also important to ensure our communities are healthy and economically more productive.”
Luke Williams responded: “Immigrant families are presented with an agonizing decision between family and work. There’s no way to keep children and parents together under our current laws. Why wouldn’t we want to address this?“
Washington Compact leaders, and conservative and moderate allies across the nation, have created a climate that has made immigration reform inevitable. Make no mistake: 2014 is immigration reform’s time. Immigration reform will create a stronger America. The American people know reform will move our country forward, and voters – including GOP primary voters – want it done. It is time for Congress to transcend politics and make it so.