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Flake: Immigration bill has to leave room for commerce

PHOENIX — As the federal government debates an immigration bill, one Arizona senator is reminding everyone that it must leave room for commerce.

“As part of immigration reform, you have to make sure you have a secure border in terms of illegal crossings, but you have a border that’s open for business,” Sen. Jeff Flake told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Bruce St. James Wednesday.

And he’s not only pushing for a better border plan, but a fully-staffed border complete with both customs and Border Patrol officials.

Flake said trade, particularly with Mexico, has a massive effect on Arizona’s economy.

“For Arizona, there’s about $13 billion in trade that goes back and forth,” he said, adding that about 700,000 jobs in Arizona are trade-dependent.

Of course, an open trade agreement with Mexico does compromise some Arizona jobs because things can become cheaper, but Flake said that, by and large, the agreement has many more positives than negatives.

In addition to immigration reform, president Barack Obama is also pushing Congress to give him the authority to negotiate new trade deals.

“Traditionally, we will give the president the authority to negotiate trade deals and then agree, once that trade deal is done, to move it through Congress in an expedited way and just have one vote up or down,” he said of the way things usually work.

However, Flake is aware of the political atmosphere in D.C. and realizes that Obama needs Republican support to start making agreements.

“A lot of my colleagues don’t want to give the president any more money for anything,” he said.