Worsley: Immigration reform important to economic growth

5143c9ef0f61b.imageWe in the conservative movement are still licking our wounds from the last election. As we do some soul-searching, it should be easy to answer one question: Do we side with those who think no tax is high enough, or are we on the side of America’s entrepreneurs, professionals, farmers, ranchers and small business owners?

We have always been on the side of America’s hard-working optimists — the ones who think we are headed for something better. The people who dig deep, invest for the future, and make good things happen.

So why, for so long, have we let ourselves be on the side that opposes immigration reform?

We know that the system is broken. Our immigration system takes freshly minted business students, scientists, and engineers and kicks them out of the country, telling them to come back in five years (or more) — their only offense being they were born in another country. Many of them come here prepared to start businesses and professional careers, and they study in American colleges. Sending them back to their home countries sends their skills along with them.

Business leaders understand this. Recent surveys show that the vast majority of business leaders agree that our immigration system makes it too hard for people to come here and stay legally. And, most in the business community agree that we need immigrants to help ensure our country’s economic success.

If we have smart, skilled, U.S.-trained people knocking on the door, wanting to work here and expand our economy, we can’t afford to slam the door in their faces. Increasing taxes and Washington’s inability to rein in spending makes it tough enough for business owners. We can’t make matters worse by chasing out people who willingly want to pay American taxes and build America’s private sector.

We need high fences and wide gates in our immigration system. Today’s system is the opposite: Too hard for people who take the right path, and too porous for the ones who cheat. Fixing the system isn’t just smart, it’s necessary.

It’s a winning issue for conservatives. Nobody becomes an entrepreneur and then demands higher taxes and tougher regulations. People don’t become partners in small businesses just hoping to see big government quash their dreams with tax hikes and reckless spending. The optimists are our natural conservative constituency. We want those people here, today, in America — not going home to other economies that are competing with us in the global marketplace.

Immigrants are people who take risks. They risk coming to a new country, having to learn a new language, make new friends and find new opportunities for their families. Taking risks is inherent in the American spirit. For generations, immigrants have come to the U.S. in search of the American Dream. It is through this adventurous spirit and belief in a better tomorrow that has made America the great melting pot of entrepreneurs and risk-takers that it is today.

Being an American isn’t about the color of your skin or where you were born. It’s about the principles you hold close to your heart: opportunity, freedom, innovation, and a better tomorrow.

We need secure borders and better systems for employment verification. We also need more opportunities for skilled immigrants to come here, streamlined programs for seasonal workers, and a path to legal status for the people who are already here, no matter how they came. These common-sense fixes for America’s broken immigration system aren’t just good for the conservative movement, they’re good for the country.

Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, was elected in 2012 to represent legislative district 25 in the Arizona Senate. Worsley’s entrepreneurial accomplishments include being the founder of SkyMall.
Originally printed at East Valley Tribune