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Utah business leaders push back against proposed immigration bill

SALT LAKE CITY – The bill endorsed by President Trump that would limit certain aspects of legal immigration is getting a cool reaction from business leaders and Latino advocates in Utah.

President Trump joined Sen. David Perdue of Georgia and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas who proposed a bill which aims to create an immigration system based on merit, and not so much on family ties.  League of United Latino American Citizens of Utah President Antonella Packard believes family connections should always be an important part of any proposed immigration reform.  She says, “We need comprehensive immigration reform.  We don’t want to separate families.”

However, she says her main concern is a financial one.  She says there are not enough qualified workers in Utah to fill the number of open positions we currently have, whether those jobs are considered “high-skilled” or not.  “This country is going to go through a shift, demographically speaking, when people are exiting the workforce and retiring and we’re not going to have enough people to truly be able to staff positions,” Packard says.

This sentiment is echoed by Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce CEO Lane Beattie.  He says, “They had a total of 90,000 H1B visas that were available in the entire country.  They were absolutely gone within five days.”

Beattie says he’s happy about one thing.  He’s glad lawmakers are taking a closer look at immigration reform after a long stretch of doing nothing about it.  However, he believes the proposed measure would be bad for business. “To cut the immigration we already have in meaningful jobs hurts Utah’s economy, not helps it,” he says.