SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – The debate over immigration reform is a divisive one across the country including here in Utah. On Inside Utah Politics, Glen Mills had a conversation with Aimee Winder Newton, Salt Lake County Council, and Tim Wheelwright, Chair, Immigration Reform Task Force at the Salt Lake Chamber, about the impact of immigration in our state.
According to NewAmericanEconomy.org, “The roughly 250,000 new Americans living in Utah today are vitally important to the state. They serve as everything from livestock workers to entrepreneurs making them critical contributors to Utah’s economic success overall. Immigrants are also playing a huge part in ensuring that Utah remains a leading innovator in STEM fields like advanced manufacturing and data support.”
During the discussion, one of the points that Wheelwright made is that first generation immigrants make a significant contribution to Utah’s economy.
“They pay millions of dollars in taxes in the form of sales tax and property tax,” explained Wheelwright.
Newton added that first generation immigrants are “statistically far more-likely to start a business than a native-born Utahn.”
Another topic that was touched on during this sit down interview was employers bringing immigrants into the states to get jobs done.
“We have employers that simply cannot find enough U.S. workers to fill their open positions. We see this in agriculture, we see it in hospitality, construction, landscaping — these are sectors of the market where there aren’t enough U.S. workers to fill those jobs. As a result, employers are anxious to find other ways to tap into finding the workers, the workforce that they need, and often that is in immigration and beyond our borders. The problem is that we have such an outdated immigration system that it is very difficult for them to quickly and efficiently get the people that they need when they need them. You hear stories about farmers who have crops that are rotting in the field because you can’t get workers here in time,” said Wheelwright.
Other topics touched on were comprehensive reform, immigrants being welcome in Utah and whether or not it’s the same as the national take on immigration, and so much more.