In Phoenix, we
know the need for immigration
we’ve been calling
for it for decades,
and our economy is
immigration reform at
the federal level no
longer can be ignored.
There is no other place where this is more
obvious than right here in Arizona, at
ground zero, in our biggest city. Damaged
business relations, economic stagnation
and the “not welcome” message to a key
customer base have harmed our economy.
I’ve seen it first hand. As mayor, I have
traveled on three trade missions to Mexico,
which is Arizona’s largest trading partner.
Trade with Mexico totals about $11.9 billion,
with us exporting about $5.74 billion
worth of product to the country. Computers
and electronics alone provide more than
$1.2 billion worth of export activity.
We cannot ignore its ties to immigration
reform. I have seen how political
divisiveness has damaged our economic
relationship and partnership with Mexico.
Commerce resulting from tourism is
particularly important. Mexicans account
for more than 70% of the 4.7 million
international overnight visitors, having
contributed $2.69 billion and 23,400
direct jobs Arizona’s economy between
2007 and 2008. I’ve been on the front
lines trying to repair that relationship.
I reassure our partners in Mexico that
Phoenix is open for business, but the
skepticism is still there, and our economy
is hurt by it.
Our city needs comprehensive immigration
reform at the federal level. As
a mayor who values public safety as my
top priority, I’ve also seen the negative
effects of the failure to pass immigration
reform on our city’s public safety.
Divisive legislation rose up partly out of
frustration that the federal government
did not reform immigration.
But comprehensive immigration
reform and border security are not
mutually exclusive. Here in Phoenix, we
want comprehensive immigration reform
and border security. Investment in
infrastructure at our ports of entry along
our southern border is an economic and
security plus for our great state.
I consider diversity a strength in our
city, and we embrace it. Our hardworking
families and kids are pursuing
the American dream, and they deserve
to be safe while doing it. We need a big
change on immigration, and as detailed
plans emerge, I’m looking forward to our
nation getting started.
We have the opportunity to look
toward a more promising future, one
in which we can work together on
common-sense policies that benefit our
economy, our city and our residents.
At a time when bipartisanship is hard
to find in Congress, I applaud Arizona
Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake for
stepping up with their Democratic colleagues
and working together toward a
solution on immigration.
We also need to pass the DREAM Act
for the future of our city so our up-andcoming
leaders can fully contribute to
the community. Those who qualify for
deferred action should also be rightfully
granted the opportunity to apply for a
driver’s license as the law states, so we
can give them a license to drive to their
workplace and a license to lead.
Comprehensive immigration reform
is about people, but it’s also about our
cities, and in order for Phoenix to lead
the way toward a more sustainable economic
future, we need Congress to act.
Greg Stanton is the Mayor of Phoenix.