The Chamber supports comprehensive immigration reform that promotes efficient borders and provides the business community access to workforce critical to its success. Immigrants comprise nearly one-third of the labor force in San Diego County, contributing to about 25 percent of the region’s GDP, and represent 22 percent of the total household income locally, a substantial share of spending power.
There is also a strong tradition of immigrant entrepreneurship in this country, will half of Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or the child of an immigrant. They make our economy stronger.
Enhancement of our regional and national economy can be achieved through a well-trained and plentiful workforce, and safe and efficient borders. Our economy depends on policies which provide our business community with access to workforce. These programs, such as the H1B1 visa and a guest worker program, support skilled workers, research, and investment. Multiple studies have shown that employing highly skilled foreign workers whose abilities and talents complement those of native-born workers actually create new employment opportunities for American workers. The lack of a comprehensive immigration system limits and affects the region’s economic growth and represents a potential threat to NAFTA visas and Mexico’s Multiple Migratory Form (FMM). In the past, the Chamber was successful in advocating for an online process for FMMs that today facilitates access to Mexico for foreign tourists visiting by sea, land, or air.
On August 2017, President Trump announced a phasing out of the DACA program by March of 2018. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, created under Obama’s administration, supported hundreds of thousands of youth immigrants by allowing them a two-year work permit and avoid deportation. Congress must now pass legislation to continue the program before the March deadline.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 343,000 Californians are currently eligible for DACA, with 114,000 more in the near future. 38,000 of DACA eligible recipients are in San Diego. San Diego’s immigrant population provides a powerful economic impact in terms of spending power ($16 billion annually) and taxes paid ($6 billion). In order to ensure an increase in GDP, we must grow, not diminish, our immigrant population, as they also represent a critical part of our workforce.
Future growth of our economy depends on immigration policies which allow our businesses to hire skilled workers, investment in research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We urge Congress to take action and pass legislation to support our economy. Our efforts towards this objective include the Chamber’s advocacy delegation trips to Washington D.C., a grassroots initiative encouraging members to submit a letter or directly contact their members of Congress, and a series of support letters and joint efforts with other state and local organizations.
A comprehensive immigration system will become an economic engine for the local and national economy. Through increased civic engagement and citizenship, we can stabilize the workforce, facilitate the attraction of highly skilled candidates, increase retention, and improve employee performance. With 204,000 immigrants in San Diego eligible for citizenship, the Chamber partnered with the New Immigration Forum to assist local businesses offer naturalization programs for their employees. Through this partnership, more than 50 businesses and agencies including the City of San Diego and the San Diego International Airport are now providing this employee benefit.