Testimony on immigration bills

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 at 3:09 pm and is filed under Chamber News, Immigration, Public Policy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Over the past week, the Chamber has testified on a number of the immigration bills being debated on Capitol Hill. Monday afternoon, Public Policy Director Wesley Smith testified against H.B. 253. Tuesday, Chamber Executive Vice President and General Counsel Robin Riggs testified in favor of H.B. 116, a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Wright (R-Dist. 68) that would implement a guest worker program. We’ve had several inquires about the Chamber’s position so we thought it would be helpful to post the testimony given by the Chamber.

Wesley Smith, public policy director H.B. 253:

Good afternoon.  I am Wesley Smith and I serve as the Director of Public Policy at the Salt Lake Chamber.  The Salt Lake Chamber is a state-wide Chamber of Commerce representing 6, 100 businesses and approximately 500,000 Utah jobs—nearly half the workforce of our state.

The Chamber opposes H.B. 253 on the grounds that it will damage Utah’s economy and it is inconsistent with The Utah Compact.

First, the Salt Lake Chamber seeks to build Utah’s reputation as a business-friendly state.  The Chamber is committed to reducing business costs, taxes and regulations.

This bill constitutes a tremendous increase in regulation resulting in increased costs to business and government.  Setting aside the significant costs of utilizing E-Verify, this bill would create undue burdens on business and increase the role of government in our lives.

Second, the Salt Lake Chamber supports the principles outlined in the Utah Compact.  This legislation does not comport with The Utah Compact in the following areas:

Federal Solutions:
The Utah Compact acknowledges the critical role of the federal government in addressing immigration issues.  As the federal government is the sole authority on the work eligibility, we believe that enforcement of this federal law if best handled by the federal government as opposed to state efforts to enforce federal law.

Economy:
This bill does not represent the free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity, which is espoused in The Utah Compact.  This bill increased government regulation and harms Utah’s global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.  Government should not put the burden of enforcement on the shoulders of business.  The federal government must protect our national borders.

In summation, the Chamber opposes this legislation as inconsistent with the Utah Compact and inconsistent with the Chamber’s mission, which states:  As Utah’s business leader, we stand as the voice of business, we support our members’ success and we champion community prosperity.

Robin Riggs, executive vice president and general counsel, H.B. 116:

Good afternoon.  I am Robin Riggs and I serve as the General Counsel of the Salt Lake Chamber.  The Salt Lake Chamber is a state-wide Chamber of Commerce representing 6, 100 businesses and approximately 500,000 Utah jobs—nearly half the workforce of our state.

The Chamber supports H.B. 116 .  This legislation will benefit our economy and appears to be guided by the principles of The Utah Compact.

First, the Salt Lake Chamber seeks to build Utah’s reputation as a business-friendly state.  This legislation sends the right message to the nation and the world: Utah is a pragmatic and business-friendly state.

Second, the Salt Lake Chamber supports the principles outlined in the Utah Compact.  Several important provisions of this bill are in harmony with The Utah Compact.  Namely:

-  This legislation recognizes the need for federal action and serves as a clear message to the federal government:  Act or we are prepared to solve our immigration problems.

-  H.B. 116 also addresses the criminal element of undocumented immigration while preserving the professional judgment and discretion of our law enforcement officials.  It calls for undocumented immigrants to register with the state and includes a background check that filters out criminals.  We support stringent enforcement on those who don’t meet the standards set forth in the bill.

- Most importantly, this bill will benefit our economy.  This bill represents the free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity, which is espoused in The Utah Compact.   Immigrants who are actively contributing to our economy will be able to integrate more fully and live as productive members of society.

The Chamber supports this legislation that appears to be guided by the principles of The Utah Compact and is business-friendly.  As Utah’s business leader, we stand as the voice of business, we support our members’ success and we champion community prosperity.

Thank you.

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