Employers pushing back against anti-immigration crowd

Immigration Works USA is a new business coalition with a goal to enact meaningful immigration reform, for both low skilled and high skilled labor. It is trying to push back against the anti-immigration, or at least anti-illegal immigration, movement which has resulted in, among other things, chaining an illegal woman to her hospital bed while she delivered her baby.
The organization’s strategy is as follows:
Strengthen and expand our network. Jumpstart employer coalitions in states where they don’t exist. Provide fledgling chapters with toolkits, templates and other how-to advice. Help with recruiting and, where needed, modest seed funding for new coalitions.
Messaging – local and national. Conduct public opinion research, develop messages, provide local chapters with talking points and media training. Help the coalitions document the economic benefits of immigration to their states. Help them speak out about the damage done locally by enforcement-only policies. Create an arsenal of tailored TV and radio spots.
An early warning system: mapping and tracking local battles. Which state immigration bills are moving,which local candidate is gearing up to use immigration as a wedge issue – ImmigrationWorks’ local roots put us in a position to know before anyone else. Our state-based chapters are our eyes and ears on the ground, tracking ongoing battles and predicting where others are about to break out.
Building a grassroots database. The key to winning is an army of engaged, articulate employers prepared to contact their members of Congress and make the case for immigration reform. These troops must be recruited state by state, business by business, peer-to-peer. Key tools: regional training and mobilization sessions, electronic town halls, web “microsites,” then sustained follow-up communication to maintain interest and engagement. The goal: a national database that can produce both quantity and quality – the e-mails, faxes and phone calls to Congress we need to win.
On July 6 the New York Times reviewed efforts by businesses to push back, in states like Arizona:
Last week, an Arizona employers’ group submitted more than 284,000 signatures — far more than needed — for a November ballot initiative that would make the 2007 law even friendlier to employers.
Also in recent months, immigration bills were defeated in Indiana and Kentucky — states where control of the legislatures is split between Democrats and Republicans — due in part to warnings from business groups that the measures could hurt the economy.
In Oklahoma, chambers of commerce went to federal court and last month won an order suspending sections of a 2007 state law that would require employers to use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires. In California, businesses have turned to elected officials, including the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, to lobby federal immigration authorities against raiding long-established companies.
While much of the employer activity has been at the grass-roots level, a national federation has been created to bring together the local and state business groups that have sprung up over the last year.
“These employers are now starting to realize that nobody is in a better position than they are to make the case that they do need the workers and they do want to be on the right side of the law,” said Tamar Jacoby, president of the new federation, ImmigrationWorks USA.

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