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Labor needs: A critical component of Federal Immigration Reform

As Congress considers immigration reform, we all have a responsibility to encourage our elected representatives to collaborate until they pass a meaningful solution.

Arizona is at a critical juncture with clear opportunities in sight. We have an extraordinary opportunity to lead the successful passage of federal reform that addresses the security, economic and humanitarian issues impacting our nation, state and local communities.

While Congress is deliberating immigration reform, our state is rebounding from an economic recession. If we pass smart reforms that address the business community's need for labor, we can reinforce our long-term future and create a productive work force.

The Real Arizona Coalition's outline provides a thoughtful framework for discussing and debating the most critical issues. It smartly takes into account Arizona's need for workers at every level of the economy. The reality is that many industries in Arizona need skilled and unskilled workers. In my industry construction the issue is clear. Without an adequate labor supply, our industry will suffer and so will our economy at all levels. We need a dependable supply of labor to build our homes, schools, roads, stores, hospitals and places of work.

The recessionary climate that enveloped Arizona these past four years has clouded the issue of labor shortages. According to the Associated General Contractors, Arizona lost 129,000 craftsmen since 2008. Only one-tenth are expected to return or be replaced. As the Arizona economy improves, Professor Lee McPheters of Arizona State University, and Elliott D. Pollack, a leading Valley economist, predict we will have a "normal" economy again sometime in 2015 or 2016.

We need workers to sustain our construction and agriculture industries, hotels, food service and much more. We also need high-skilled workers to support our tech industry. Without a suffi cient labor force our recovery will be stymied. We must create a win-win scenario that fulfi lls our economic needs while allowing immigrant workers to become productive, tax-paying supporters of our society.

Beyond our labor needs, we have an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate to the world that Arizona is prepared at every level to maximize the benefi ts of our border with Mexico and committed to building a 21st century economy. Count me in!

David S. Crawford, P.E., is President & CEO of Sundt Construction, Inc.


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