A group of business and community leaders in Utah have come together to advocate for what they’re calling “responsible” immigration reform.
Calling itself the New American Economy, the coalition represents about 500 elected officials and business leaders from across the country and political spectrum.
Utah’s chapter includes more than a dozen elected leaders and business members, like Jorge Dennis, who runs a building maintenance company in Salt Lake and is a board member of the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
He says the debate over immigration has been overly divisive.
“So this issue of immigration, obviously, has too long been used as a partisan weapon for both parties, with seemingly less and less regard to individuals, communities and small businesses,” he said. “This is a human issue, which requires more thought and sensitivity than some of the rhetoric that is thrown out there.”
Notably, the coalition is against the mass deportations that President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on. They’re also pushing for smarter border security and establishing a path for legal status for undocumented immigrants already here.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, while not a member of the coalition, expressed support during a conference call organized by the group on Monday.
“No one should expect a simple solution to such a complex set of problems,” Hatch said. “But I believe that our goal should be serious, effective legislation that can be broadly supported, not only by Congress, but the American people.”
Hatch says he’ll focus his legislative efforts on enforcement and improving the process for a highly skilled worker visa program, as well as an easy-to-use guest worker program for the agricultural sector.
Although not directly mentioning the wall Trump has pledged to build, Hatch says border security could be improved through better technology and biometrics to track people entering and exiting the country.