By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – House Republicans laid out their principles for immigration reform Thursday.
At the same time, Governor Ed Rendell led a discussion at University of Pennsylvania Law School on how those reforms could impact the state.
Rendell co-chairs the Immigration Task force of the Bipartisan Policy Center with Republican heavy hitters like Secretary Condolezza Rise and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
“If there are jobs, workers will come. And they will come legally or they will come illegally,” says Richard Bloomingdale, president of the Pennsylvania ALF-CIO.
Bloomingdale joined Barbour, Kristi Boswell of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Osagie Imasogie of Iroko Pharmaceuticals and Theresa Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center to discuss the many reasons why comprehensive immigration reform is necessary.
The panelists discussed the need for immigrant labor and ideas in agriculture, technology and the science sectors in Pennsylvania, as well as to help bolster a slow-growing economy and birth rate.
“Immigrants are not just workers, they are consumers, they are producers, they are entrepreneurs, they are job creators,” says Brown.
The panelists agreed that immigration reform will need to include a fair and equitable method of moving undocumented immigrants from a status of living in the shadows to one that is legal and then eventually leads to citizenship.
In Pennsylvania, the need is evident: seven percent of the state’s workforce are immigrants.
“Most people cast immigration as Mexican undocumented’s,” says Rendell, “but that is not the case in Pennsylvania. They have come from Asia predominantly….for example, Upper Darby School district has 101 different dialects that are spoken.”
According to U.S. Census data, Pennsylvania’s population would have declined between 2010 and 2013 without immigrants.