Washington, D.C.–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–May 16, 2006–The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), the nation’s largest and most influential advocate for the two million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S., issued the following statement from its Leadership in response to President Bush’s address to the nation on immigration reform:
“We commend the President for showing unparalleled commitment and leadership on the critical issue of immigration reform that impacts our nation’s security and economic prosperity, as well as the lives of millions of undocumented workers forced to live under society’s shadows for so long.
As the leading and most influential voice for Hispanic businesses, we are pleased that President Bush recognizes the need to have borders that are strong and secure, yet remain open to trade and business, which is vital to ensuring continued prosperity and economic growth. President Bush’s plan proposes a guest worker program that would match willing foreign workers with willing U.S. employers for jobs Americans simply don’t want to do. This program is a critical component in securing a strong, viable workforce to meet the demands of our growing and highly diverse economy, while helping us to identify who is in our country and where they are employed.
We would hope that the same conviction and commitment expressed by President Bush to secure our Southern border would apply also to our neighbors to the North in Canada, where illegal immigration into the U.S. also occurs. The same level of security should be practiced at our nation’s unprotected and vulnerable coastal ports to achieve maximum safety and security across all of our nation’s borders.
Last month, the Senate reached a promising bipartisan consensus in the Martinez-Hagel amendment that would have provided new opportunities for immigrant workers to fill a critical gap in the U.S. workforce. We applaud the bipartisan efforts led by Senate Leaders Bill Frist and Harry Reid to revive this important compromise that will improve security and safety at the borders while bringing concrete, effective and common sense solutions to our nation’s outdated immigration laws.
While President Bush’s announcement and the recent Senate agreement are certainly a step in the right direction, we will continue to reject any measure that contains an enforcement-only approach that builds fences and makes criminals of our hard-working, dedicated business owners and entrepreneurs, as well as those immigrant workers that help to contribute to the economy.
We encourage Congress to follow President Bush’s lead and move forward with sound, comprehensive immigration reform that provides safety by protecting both our borders and our country’s economic well-being, while acknowledging the vast contributions made by immigrants to the cultural richness and diversity of this great nation.