INDIANAPOLIS -- Representatives from business, hospitality, agriculture and construction industries are calling on Congress to reform the nation’s immigration system.
Immigrants living in Indiana earned more than $8 billion in 2014 and paid more than $2 billion in taxes. That’s from a report released by the Reason for Reform Campaign, which works to underscore immigrants’ contributions to the economy.
Indiana Builders Association’s Rick Wajda says it also helps highlight worker shortages created by what he calls the “broken” immigration system.
“And we’re just not finding enough qualified candidates that are interested in doing some of the more manual labor-type jobs on a construction site,” Wajda says.
Indiana State Senators have been studying immigration issues for months. However, Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s Mark Fisher says reform must happen at the federal level.
“We don’t need a hodgepodge of local, state laws,” Fisher says. “This really needs to be handled in a comprehensive manner at the federal level.”
The reform campaign says that includes eliminating backlogs in the visa system, something they say creates a significant issue for the farming community.
Indiana Farm Bureau’s Megan Ritter says the backlog and delays in processing visas does significant harm to the farming community.
“We’re talking about a harvest window that could be days and if your workers are two to three weeks late, the crop is already rotted in the field by the time the workers get here,” Ritter says.