Immigration reform is an important issue to technology businesses in Arizona because they often rely on an international workforce to keep things going. According to the Phoenix Business Journal, many of the companies in the Arizona Technology Council seek out talent from all over the world and provide them with H-1B visas so they can work in the U.S.
An H-1B visa allows a U.S. company to employ an international visitor for up to six years. That individual may eventually receive a green card and be on a pathway to citizenship, but because H-1B visas are in high demand, employers can sometimes find it difficult to continue bringing in overseas talent.
While immigration reform is an important issue nationwide, it’s at the forefront of many discussions in Arizona because the state borders Mexico. Arizona is also home to Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake, who were part of the “Gang of Eight,” a group of legislators that worked together to create a bipartisan immigration reform package that was eventually passed by the Senate.
However, when the legislation reached the House of Representatives it was shot down has yet to receive a vote. The source reported that many Republicans who object to immigration reform represent people who view the issue as a way to give undocumented immigrants American citizenship.
This unfounded fear and its resulting consequences of either ignoring the immigration issue altogether or failing to reach a solution is having a negative effect on Arizona’s economy. According to the Phoenix Business Journal, businesses in the state need to issue a call to action to educate their employees on the benefits that would result from immigration reform.
In an effort to demonstrate how detrimental anti-immigration laws can be, the CATO Institute published a study on the economic case against Arizona’s immigration law in 2012 and noted how the Legal Arizona Workers Act was harmful for the state’s economy.
The CATO report found that states end up paying for most of the costs associated with prosecuting undocumented immigrants, such as holding them in detention centers and transporting them back to their home countries, thus damaging not only local and state economies but also the U.S. economy.