Yesterday’s bipartisan Senate proposal to overhaul the immigration system has drawn praise and criticism from both sides of the aisle. In Texas, one question remains: is immigration good or bad for business?
The proposal from eight U.S. Senators calls for increased border security and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country.
Austin Republican Congressman Lamar Smith blasted the proposal. He says it would grant what amounts to amnesty and would encourage more illegal immigration.
"It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars as these individuals become eligible for government benefits," Smith said. "It will costs American workers’ jobs as they are forced to compete with millions of individuals in the workforce."
But Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond says the measure would be good for Texas businesses that depend on hard labor like agriculture and construction.
"Currently these positions are going begging, they’re not being filled," said Hammond. "Unfortunately, agricultural work is not respected like it should be in America. We need the workforce."
Hammond says that while there might be a glut of highly educated workers in Texas, hard labor jobs continue to grow. The bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators hopes to have legislation drafted by March, and a vote before the August recess.