By Lauren Ratcliffe
Published April 18, 2013
Sen. Lindsey Graham and the bipartisan Gang of Eight introduced an immigration reform bill Wednesday that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people living in the U.S. and allow for more work visas to be awarded to address labor needs.
In a series of conference calls, South Carolina lawmakers and business leaders heralded the legislation as an important measure for helping businesses grow and securing the country’s borders.
David Wilkins, former S.C. House Speaker and ambassador to Canada, called the bill tough, but fair.
“Our border will be secure,” he said. “That’s not a wish. That’s a mandate of the bill. It’s an integral part of the bill, which I think all Americans hold as a high priority.”
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce thinks the bill is essential to helping businesses thrive.
Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the chamber, thanked Graham for helping push the legislation to the Senate floor, and said it would help local businesses gain and retain a competitive edge.
“One of the things we see day in and day out with our 1,700 business members is they are dealing with the 21st century challenges of trying to be competitive in a global marketplace,” he said, adding that many businesses have struggled with securing talent both from universities and from abroad.
“I think this legislation, with regard to H1B, high-skilled visas, will allow greater flow of talent to South Carolina employers like Boeing and BMW,” he said.