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Updated Apr 24, 2013 - 2:46 pm

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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