Op-ed: CEOs Know Immigrants Are Necessary

February 28, 2011

Arizona Republic Article written by Lisa Urias

OPINIONS, January 31, 2011

uriasheadshotRecently, 12 of Arizona’s top CEOs signed on to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch’s Partnership for a New American Economy (renewour This initiative, headed by these two prominent American billionaires, together with more than 100 CEOs of multibillion-dollar companies from across America, supports comprehensive immigration reform and changes the national conversation about what immigrants do for this country.

Their co-chairs direct companies that are leaders in their industries, employing a total of nearly 500,000 people and making over $140 billion in annual sales, and include people such as Steven Ballmer of Microsoft; Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co.; Bill Marriott, CEO of Marriott International; and Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing.

Of particular interest is that this initiative is co-chaired by Murdoch, CEO of News Corp., which includes Fox News and the Wall Street Journal – one of the most conservative-driven news platforms in America.

What at first blush may seem an unlikely alliance is, upon reflection, just grounded in hard-nosed business judgments. Whatever your opinion of Mr. Murdoch, we can all agree he knows how to read a balance sheet.

What the Partnership for a New American Economy states quite clearly is this: Immigrants today, as in the past, fuel the economic engine of America. They are what make our country unique and give us an economic advantage over other countries.

More importantly, without them, America’s competitiveness in the 21st-century economy wanes. As we all know, major corporations don’t have to locate in America (much less Arizona) anymore – they can go anywhere there are young, talented people willing to work.

Simply put, the CEOs supporting Mayor Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch’s partnership are concerned that present immigration policy and dialogue in this country are hurting our short-, mid- and long-term economy and that, without comprehensive immigration reform, we will not have the talented immigrants our economy requires at every level to grow and prosper in an increasingly competitive world economy.

The issue is clear: America today, with the commencement of the first wave of 80 million Boomers set to tap Medicare and Medicaid in the next 20 years, and with the clear trend toward lower birthrates of U.S. citizens, faces a future of insufficient youth to sustain an aging population.

We need young immigrants to help fuel our economic engine. Our Congress must enact reform that will do more than just help secure our borders. It needs to adopt comprehensive immigration reform that will provide the much needed labor at every level so as to help secure our future economy.

According to the partnership, the value of immigrant labor to America is essential – and without it our economic future and that of our children will decline.

In Arizona, our state Legislature should be focused on building the infrastructure necessary to compete nationally for new jobs, on building a world-class university system to attract the brightest students as a hub of economic vitality and on favorably positioning Arizona to increase tourism opportunities for our economy. Lawmakers should simultaneously be focusing on reducing budget deficits in areas not vital to the future economic and job-growth prospects for the citizens of Arizona.

We cannot be distracted. We cannot afford millions more media hits profiling Arizona as an intolerant state. We cannot allow federal issues to divide us and halt nonpartisan approaches to addressing Arizona’s most pressing issues. We cannot permit history to repeat itself by taking on the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and positioning Arizona among Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, which are states without robust economic engines and opportunities.

My request is simple: Join Murdoch and the Partnership for a New American Economy. Read the balance sheet. Comprehensive federal immigration reform and legal paths to citizenship make sense and will make us competitive in today’s 21st-century global economy.

Lisa Urias is president of Urias Communications and the vice chair of the board of the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise.

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