Commentary: Biz Roundtables Could Help Immigration Reform

Article excerpt

Debate over immigration laws continues in Oklahoma and at the federal level, even though the state Legislature adjourned without passing any such legislation this session.

An organization called Americans for Immigration Reform has scheduled two business roundtable discussions on Wednesday regarding "common-sense immigration reform."

Hosted by Kell Kelly, president and CEO of SpiritBank, the discussions will begin in Tulsa at 9 a.m. and in Oklahoma City at 12:30 p.m. the same day.

The organization was founded this year by a diverse group of Americans concerned about what they call "destructive measures being taken or considered related to immigration and its impact on the business community, employees and consumers."

In its notice, distributed by The State Chamber, AIR says its mission is to create a "broad-based business, community and advocacy coalition to educate leaders about the need for sensible immigration reform." Hopefully they will define what they mean by "sensible."

The State Chamber's policy on federal immigration laws is, in some respects, equally vague. It calls for continued pursuit of "comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level to better secure our borders."

That is scarcely definitive. They advocate improvement of employment authorization verification systems to ensure a reliable tool for employers. That is a sound idea to protect legitimate employers, but they objected to verification language in Oklahoma's new law, arguing the federal verification system is only about 85 percent accurate.

Their specifics are much more revealing. They want a new national temporary worker program so employers can hire immigrant workers when U.S. workers are not available, apparently making no distinction as to whether they are legal or illegal and at what wage scale the determination is made.

Their next two points indicate an amnesty program to provide "a reasonable pathway to legal status for undocumented individuals currently in the United States."

We have such a pathway, but it is one that was blatantly ignored by millions of illegal immigrants currently in this country with the help of some employers.

Interestingly the only so-called immigration legislation seriously considered during this year's legislative session was to send the voters a constitutional amendment to make English the official state language. …