Upstate Chamber joins others pushing for laws to protect immigrants to fill jobs, promote growth


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The Cato Institute data estimates it would cost the federal government $60 billion to deport millions of immigrants.

The price tag is just a small glimpse of the devastating impact it would have on the local economy.

“Everybody is recruiting employees that don’t exist,” said South Carolina Democratic Senator Glenn Reese.

The senator and Upstate business owner said he knows better than anyone how hard it is to find reliable employees.

“I had one call in today,” Reese told 7News. “Can’t make it.”

60 Chamber of Commerce, from across the country, signed a letter sent to Congress calling for permanent protection for DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and people on Temporary Protected Status, TPS, by passing bipartisan legislation.

One of the Chambers that signed the letter is the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, which is in Senator Reese’s district.

Reese told 7News he supports the call for action.

“What we believe as a business advocacy organization is we have got to remove barriers for people. So people can get access to all the economic opportunity,” said Allen Smith, President and CEO of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

Smith said Spartanburg’s economy is “hot” right now. He said a strong skilled workforce is needed in order to fill the nearly 60,000 available jobs in the Upstate.

Smith told 7News the population is there, but there’s one big problem.

“Unfortunately there’s a segment of our populations that are prohibited from getting important state licenses,” Smith said.

According to the New American Economy there’s more than 50,000 immigrants in the Greenville Metro Area. By the age of 25, 59 percent will have graduated from high school and had some college.

Smith said that much needed workforce is just sitting idly by and it’s not fair to punish them or the local businesses that could use the help.

“It’s bad policy,” Smith told 7News. “It makes no sense.”

“A lot of people will argue they are taking American jobs,” said 7News Reporter Stefany Bornman.

“No, I hire everyday and they are not taking those jobs,” said Reese. “We need people to run this country. We need every human being we can get.”

In early June the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 was approved by the House and sent to the Senate. The bill would create a road map for young immigrants to apply for citizenship.

The Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce is the only chamber in South Carolina to sign the letter to Congress.

In Western North Carolina, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce also signed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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