New Report Highlights Immigrants' Contributions To Indiana Economy

Aug 3, 2016

An immigration rally in Indianapolis
Credit SEIU Local 1 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/seiu1/

Representatives from business, hospitality, agriculture and construction industries are calling on Congress to reform the nation’s immigration system, and those groups want to bolster that call by highlighting contributions made by immigrants to Indiana.

Immigrants living in Indiana earned more than $8 billion in 2014 and paid more than $2 billion in taxes, according to a report released by the Reason for Reform Campaign, which works to underscore immigrants’ contributions to the economy.

Indiana Builders Association’s Rick Wajda said 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,” he said.

And the Indiana Farm Bureau’s Megan Ritter said 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,” she said. “The crop is already rotted in the field by the time the workers get here.”

Indiana State Senators have been studying immigration issues for months. But Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s Mark Fisher said reform must happen on the national stage.

“We don’t need a hodgepodge of local, state laws,” Fisher said. “This really needs to be handled in a comprehensive manner at the federal level.”

The reform campaign said that includes eliminating backlogs in the visa system, something they say creates a significant issue for the farming community.