Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sen. McCain comes to the Chamber, urges business to speak up for immigration reform

Sen. McCain addresses a full board room at Tuesday's roundtable

Sen. John McCain stopped by the offices of the Arizona Chamber earlier this week for one of his occasional roundtables with the business community. As usual, all of us in the room learned something from the senator, who is always generous with his time and insight.

If you’ve ever had the occasion to see the senator at one his town halls, you know that the senator’s energy is infectious. When he joined us Tuesday afternoon, he had just come from a similar roundtable, he had more meetings on tap and to top it off he had just been released from jury duty that morning. But the Energizer bunny of the U.S. Senate was fired up and ready to talk about the top issues of the day.

Immigration was on his mind. Sen. McCain made an impassioned plea to the state’s business community to urge the U.S. House to take up immigration reform when Congress returns to Washington after the August recess. A prominent member of the Gang of Eight who helped advance an immigration package out of the Senate, the senator told our group that he believes the time is now to reach out to House members and let them know that immigration reform must be a priority.

As Sen. McCain pointed out, this issue does not have to be surrounded in controversy or vitriol. He reported on polling figures that show that over 70 percent of Arizonans support a reform package that would require immigrants who aren’t in a legal status to learn English, pay back taxes and go to the back of the line for legalized status.

He’s right. We’ve seen similar figures in our own polling at the Chamber, making clear that Americans and Arizonans are ready for positive action on immigration.

The senator also discussed the economic benefits of immigration reform, citing analyses by the Congressional Budget Office and REMI showing the positive impact on the budget deficit and the country’s employment picture.

Sen. McCain also reminded the audience that before the summer is over we are bound to read of yet more deaths in the desert by migrants seeking to improve their economic prospects. That we would tolerate these deaths by men and women who are seeking to work and provide for their families is not consistent with the ideals of the Land of Opportunity.

The Arizona Chamber has heard Sen. McCain loud and clear. We recently worked with businesses from across the state to write to our U.S. House delegation and urge action on immigration reform. 

As we wrote in our letter, “we need to fix the legal immigration system so it serves America’s interests, delivering the workers and the brainpower we need to sustain a vibrant and competitive economy.”

Sen. McCain meets with Arizona Chamber and Phoenix Chamber members

Sen. McCain meets with the media following Tuesday's roundtable

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