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Utah business leaders demand immigration reform in newspaper ad


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SALT LAKE CITY — Business leaders took an unusual step of taking out a full-page ad in Sunday's paper to push lawmakers to support and pass some kind of immigration reform.

When Clark Ivory, a Utah home builder, talks about future development, he talks about making it a reality. A big part of that plan will involve both skilled workers and laborers alike. As the immigration debate drags on, Ivory says inaction is dragging the economy down.

"There's no question that people don't understand how important the immigration workforce is as workers, but also as customers," Ivory said. "And we need them."

Ivory's name — and business — was one of more than three dozen in the ad, which was paid for by Partnership for a New American Economy and the Salt Lake Chamber. The ad addressed Utah's delegation directly.

"We can no longer afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good; we must move forward with what is practical and in the best interest of the nation," the ad read.

In the U.S. Senate, there are sharp differences with the Gang of Eight's proposal. Sen. Mike Lee said in a Sunday Deseret News op-ed piece that the bill is an example of "big government dysfunction."

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He said he will vote no this week. While Lee has been outspoken about the size of the proposed bill, Sen. Orrin Hatch has voiced tentative support. However, his support is conditional on a requirement to pay back taxes. Both Lee and Hatch said they're well aware of the Chamber's concerns.

If the Gang of Eight's bill fails, members of the Chamber hope another proposal will come quickly so a bill can pass this year.

"We don't elect people to do easy things," said Jason Mathis, from the Salt Lake Chamber. "We elect people people to solve problems. It's time to solve this problem."

For Ivory and other business owners, patience is waning as a labor shortage looms.

"We don't understand why politicians can't be more like business people," Ivory said. "Why can't they be more pragmatic?"

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Richard Piatt

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