ABI joins other Iowa business, manufacturing and ag leaders in call for immigration reform

July 9, 2014

ABI joins other Iowa business, manufacturing and agriculture leaders in call for immigration reform

DES MOINES, IA -- The Partnership for a New American EconomyAmerican Farm Bureau FederationBusiness RoundtableAmericanHortWestern Growers, and the National Association of Manufacturers today urged Congress and the administration to work together to enact immigration reform during a Day of Action with events in Washington, DC and in more than 60 congressional districts across 25 states.

Concurrent to a national press conference in Washington, DC, a tele-press conference was hosted in Iowa’s 3rdCongressional district in Des Moines. The event featured remarks from Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham, Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO Jay Byers, and Iowa Chamber Alliance Executive Director John Stineman.  The event was co-sponsored by the Iowa Chamber Alliance, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the Iowa Business Council, the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

“It is vitally important for Congress and the Administration to modernize our broken immigration system to reflect today’s realities and address the current and future workforce needs of our economy,” said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “To remain globally competitive, we need to be able to attract top talent from across the world to help fuel our future economic growth.”  

“Attracting, developing, and retaining a world-class workforce is critical to ensuring the continued vitality of Iowa commerce,” said Elliott Smith, Executive Director of the Iowa Business Council.  “A growing, dynamic population is the keystone to vibrant economic growth, thriving school districts, healthy government coffers, and the increased the competitiveness of academic institutions, industries, and the innovation process.  Without meaningful immigration reform, the future success of Iowa’s market-leading enterprises is truly at risk.”

"Let me stress again that Iowa manufacturers and business people see this as a workforce issue," said Mike Ralston, President of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry.  "Action has been put off for too long and we urge Congress to act now to reform U.S. immigration laws."

“Agriculture contributes more than $100 billion each year to the U.S. economy. In 2012, labor shortages on farms led to $3.3 billion in missed GDP growth and $1.3 billion in lost farm income,” said Craig Hill, President of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.  “Immigration reform is critical to ensure a reliable and competent workforce for our nation’s agricultural industry and the U.S. economy.”

“Reforming the U.S. immigration system needs to be addressed by Congress and the Administration and the businesses and farmers that drive Iowa’s economy aren’t going to go away until it is solved,” said John Stineman, Executive Director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance.  “The voters of Iowa agree:  they know the system is broken, they want to see Washington take action and they want them to do it sooner rather than later and quit making excuses.”

In conjunction with the National Day of Action, three business advocacy organizations, the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers, released new opinion survey findings showing strong support among voters in 26 states and nationally for immigration reform. These results were released in conjunction with a National Day of Action for Immigration Reform that included a Washington DC press conference and events in more than 60 key districts across 25 states.  Findings for the survey of Iowa voters include:

  • Voters across Iowa recognize the immigration system is broken: By a 9 to 1 ratio, voters believe the system is in need of fixing versus those who think the system is functioning the way it should.  90% of Republicans believe Congress should take action to fix the immigration system. 81% of Independents agree.
  • Voters overwhelmingly reject argument that President's unwillingness to enforce laws is grounds not to pass immigration reform. 2 out of 3 voters reject the argument that the Administration's unwillingness to enforce laws is a reason for Congress not to act. 3 out of 5 Republicans reject this argument as well.  That number is 57% among Independents
  • Voters don’t want Washington to wait to fix the immigration system.  75% of voters want Congress to act this year, with more than half calling it "very important" they act this year. 74% of Republicans say it is important that Congress act, while 49% say it is very important. 70% of Independents believe it is important for Congress to act this year.
  • Voters support the principles outlined by House leadership.  66% of voters support the basic immigration plan laid out in Speaker Boehner's "immigration standards".  58% of Republicans support an immigration reform plan that secures our borders, expands visas for high-skill workers and farm workers, provides an employer verification program, allows young persons brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents an opportunity to earn citizenship, and provides visas to live and work here legally to undocumented immigrants without a criminal record who pay penalties and back taxes. Only 37% oppose. Among Independents, 61% support and only 32% oppose.
  • Voters support establishing a legal status for undocumented immigrants.  More than 2/3 of voters support legal status for undocumented immigrants. A majority of Republicans (63%) support legal status
  • Republicans want their next presidential candidate to support immigration reform:  Republicans would rather vote for a presidential candidate in 2016 that is from a party that supports reform (68%) than one from a party that opposes it (16%).

“Behind all the noise and rhetoric is an American electorate looking for leaders unafraid to tackle immigration reform,” said Brock McCleary, President, Harper Polling, Inc.

The Iowa Interactive Voice Response (IVR) automated telephone survey was conducted by Harper Polling, Inc between June 29th and June 30th, and surveyed samples size was 551. The margin of error was 4.17%. The total percentages for responses may not equal 100 percent due to rounding.  Specific complete polling results availablehere.

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About the National Day of Action for Immigration Reform

Today, a coalition of leading business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for a New American Economy, American Farm Bureau Federation, Business Roundtable, AmericanHort, Western Growers, and the National Association of Manufacturers launched a Day of Action for immigration reform. These compelling business voices are best positioned to speak on why immigration reform is in our national interest: we need changes to our immigration laws in order to drive job creation and economic growth for our country.

Despite a stalemate in Washington, business leaders are more united than ever, and we are not giving up on the importance of fixing this problem. We join today to deliver the message to the administration and Members of Congress that immigration reform is an economic imperative. In order to drive this message home, we are coordinating a Washington, D.C. national press conference with events in more than 60 congressional districts in 25 states  – all in a single day. 

Today’s national press conference highlights leading business association CEOs talking about the need for reform. The in-district events features state and local employer associations, state farm bureaus, local businesses and industry leaders. The goal is visible activity across the country, including, among other states, Arkansas, California, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The coordinated events aim to show that across industries, sectors, and geographies the business community needs our immigration laws to be modernized.