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Valley leaders heading to D.C. to discuss immigration, jobs

PHOENIX -- The head of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council is leading a delegation of Valley mayors and business leaders on a mission to Washington, D.C., next week.

Barry Broome with GPEC said the focus of the trip is immigration reform but jobs and trade are also on the menu.

Broome said there are about 65,000 Latino-owned businesses in the state, so the notion that Arizona is anti-Hispanic because of tough immigration laws like Senate Bill 1070. Broome said the support for immigration reform from senators Jeff Flake and John McCain gives the state a shot for an image makeover.

"Forty percent of our state is Latino. We're a Latino state. We've been basically a political football and it's time for us to step up."

Broome said once the immigration reform issue is put to bed, the economic opportunity involving Arizona and Mexico is limitless.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith agrees. He will join the delegation and said people are beginning to realize that the state had to enact tough immigration laws like SB 1070 because the federal government left Arizona no other choice and the economy suffered tremendously.

"It was Arizona's cry for help in many ways," he said. "It was throwing up our hands and saying we are tired of being ignored and we need something done. Our inability to fix the immigration system has cost us billions of dollars in lost trade and cost us lost opportunity."

Smith said the lack of immigration reform has been a barrier and when the issue is solved it will open up a lot of opportunities between Arizona and Mexico.

"Mexico is our biggest trading partner but the potential is still untapped. We realize the real potential we have for trade."

Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and others will join Smith on the trip.

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About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite food: Steak and shrimp, and any food on campouts.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Favorite news memory: The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. The 2007 Southern California Firestorm and being at Sky Harbor Airport when the first plane lifted off several days after 9-11. Seeing the American flag on the tail of the Salt Lake City-bound Delta airliner as it took off still gives me goosebumps.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges -- which was outstanding --, Lonesome Dove.

First job: Spinning records at KLER Radio Orofino, Idaho 1980.

First concert: KISS/Cheap Trick 1977 Spokane, WA Coliseum.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, The University of Montana Grizzlies and Texas Rangers.

Outside interests: Sports, camping, fishing, traveling.


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