Immigration has a significant impact on California’s economy, affecting both the labor force and the movement of goods. Immigration, both documented and undocumented, is expected to account for almost all of the growth in the labor force. America’s current immigration system, however, is broken and does not meet the needs of our citizens or businesses. Immigration reform is especially important to California as there are approximately 2.6 million undocumented immigrants in California—23% of the nation’s total and about 6% of the state’s population—half of whom have lived here for more than 10 years. The vast majority of these individuals are holding jobs and doing work upon which employers and our economy depend. These individuals have developed roots in this country, leaving little incentive to return to their country of origin. The uncertainty over their legal status is a drag on our economy, and, if resolved, would stimulate consumer spending and investment.
America cannot compete and win in a global economy without attracting and retaining a talented workforce of big dreamers. Immigration reform is one of the compelling challenges of our time. Immigration reform should bring certainty to employers, employees, and families. We need a comprehensive national program that addresses border security, temporary worker programs, employment verification and enforcement, as well as a path to legal status.
The CalChamber supports the following comprehensive reform principles:
- Support a bipartisan solution in Congress for borders as a line of defense against those who enter illegally and against those who pose security threats to this country. Border security shouldn’t be at the expense of our trade and commerce, which must continue between Mexico and California.
- Temporary worker programs should be reformed to meet the needs of employers for high- and low-skilled jobs that cannot be filled by U.S. workers. The current system leaves many hard-working immigrants in a state of limbo waiting for approvals while employers struggle to keep their most valued asset, a trained workforce.
- Strict enforcement of employment verification has to be combined with 100% reliable employment eligibility information (E-Verify). Employers and individuals who knowingly hire undocumented workers should be punished.
- An earned pathway to legal status for undocumented workers should be created, but should not permit line jumping in front of the current immigrant visa backlog, and the processing of legal immigration needs to occur simultaneously to avoid creating incentives for illegal immigration.
2017 Business Issues and Legislative Guide
Agriculture and Resources
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
Expanding Opportunity — An Agenda for All Californians
Health Care Reform
Labor and Employment
Unemployment Insurance, Immigration, Occupational Safety, Tourism