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More than 45 Colorado business, industry leaders announce coalition calling for federal immigration solutions

Staff Writer
LA Junta Tribune

Contributed

DENVER — Today, a diverse coalition of business and industry leaders from across the state formally launched the Colorado Business Coalition for Immigration Solutions (CBCIS). The coalition, whose mission is to advance the principles of the Colorado Compact within the state and in Washington DC, was announced with an open letter to the Colorado congressional delegation articulating that modernizing the country’s immigration system must be a priority for elected officials, and that solutions are achievable now.

“As our state, and the nation, continue to grapple with the economic ramifications of the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, what binds CBCIS firmly together is our tangible understanding of the role that our immigrant and refugee communities have played on the frontlines of this pandemic — as healthcare workers, educators, small business owners, and as critical workers in our food supply pipeline — and will continue to play as our economy recovers. Now, more than ever, the economic imperative of addressing this country’s broken immigration system is clear. Our businesses navigate this flawed system daily, and directly feel the impact of a system that lacks the capacity to reliably provide individuals a pathway into our workforce; an immediate challenge as we begin the long and hard work of recovery,” the letter stated.

The coalition represents more than 45 diverse organizations across Colorado’s industries and regions, including the Colorado Association of Home Builders, the Colorado Dairy Farmers, the Colorado Technology Association, the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, and Club 20, among others.

Read about the Coalition and see its full list of members here.

Going forward, CBCIS will be a leading voice of the business community in conversations around immigration in the state and in Washington, and will continue to champion an immigration system that recognizes the critical role of immigrants in Colorado’s economy.

This new coalition has formed as data from New American Economy’s Map the Impact shows how immigrants add to Colorado’s economy and workforce. In 2018, immigrants paid a total of $1.5 billion in state and local taxes and held $14.2 billion in spending power. Furthermore, immigrants are instrumental in driving some of Colorado’s most critical industries, such as construction (46.2 percent of the industry’s workers) and STEM (13 percent). Immigrants also contribute to the state economy by starting new businesses. There are 36,444 immigrant entrepreneurs who employ 102,298 Coloradans.

“Nearly every industry—hospitality, construction, manufacturing, finance, tourism, and health and wellness—has trouble getting the employees they need,” said Chris Romer, President and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, which represents 900+ local businesses in Eagle County. “I’ve heard stories from companies in various industries that indicate they’ve simply stopped bidding on projects because they don’t have enough people to get the job done. And they can’t afford to import workers from Denver.”

“It’s clear that the need for high-skilled workers in our country continues to grow. The data shows it,” said Frannie Matthews, President and CEO of the Colorado Technology Association. “Our current immigration policy is antiquated, limiting our ability to grow and innovate. Congress must act, and soon.”

“Colorado farmers are suffering from a crippling labor crisis, and it has been getting worse for years. We simply don’t have the skilled workers we need to sustain a healthy, robust agriculture industry in the state for the long term,” said Chris Kraft, Chair of the Board of Colorado Dairy Farmers. “In order for the dairy industry to continue supplying the country and world with nutritional products, Congress must act; the future of our industry depends on it.”

“Today a group of dynamic business leaders has come together to voice how policies that attract and retain global talent are critical to ensuring the vibrancy and vitality of Colorado’s economy,” said Mo Kantner, Director of State & Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “These leaders are speaking up just as the COVID-19 pandemic and recent federal actions to further restrict work visas threaten Colorado’s long-term recovery and resiliency.”

About New American Economy

New American Economy (NAE) is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization founded to educate, empower and support policymakers, influencers, and citizens across the country that see the economic and social benefits of a smart approach to immigration reform. NAE has created a coalition of civic, business, and cultural leaders who span the political spectrum and represent all 50 states. NAE makes the case for smart immigration reform in four ways:

1) we use powerful research to demonstrate how immigration impacts our economy; 2) we organize champions at the grassroots and influencer levels to build support for immigration; 3) we partner with state and local leaders to advocate for policies that recognize the value immigrants add locally, and; 4) we show immigrant contributions to American culture through film, food, art, sports, comedy, and more. Visit newamericaneconomy.org to learn more.