Arizona businesses cheer immigration reform proposal

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The immigration reform proposal announced by Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, along with two other Republicans and four Democrats, is receiving praise from business and labor groups.

The provisions calling for a new guest worker program and green cards for college graduates are being cheered by Arizona business leaders.

"High-tech manufacturers, like Intel, need all the help they can get to ensure the nation has the right visa system in place to fill the jobs that need to be filled," said Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice President Garrick Taylor.

"We don't want to be educating the best and brightest immigrants at our universities and then have to wish them bon voyage as they had back to their home country," Taylor added.

The need for immigrant workers is also evident in Arizona's agricultural industry. For the last few years, a drop in migrant farm workers across the Southwest has led to a worker shortage. Many farmers have been unable to fully harvest crops and say Americans are unwilling to take hard-labor, low-pay jobs.
"We've been in a deep recession, but you still don't see thousands of Phoenicians move to Yuma to become agricultural workers," Taylor said. "They're tough jobs to fill."

Longtime conservative Valley businessman Mac Magruder echoed that sentiment.

"We need guest workers for all these entry-level positions and, believe me, they'll end up owning the company some day," said Magruder, who ran several Valley McDonald's restaurants for many years.

Magruder now owns, a human resources website. He calls the guest worker program crucial.

"Can you imagine the guts and motivation it takes to cross the hot desert just to be part of this country? Those are the kind of people we need," Magruder said.