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Bloomberg and biz leaders want immigration reform

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and a number of other mayors and business leaders joined forces last week to push for immigration reform, including creating a path to legalization for the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

A longtime proponent of national immigration reform, Bloomberg was joined by a bevy of high-profile officials to launch the “Partnership for a New American Economy,” a coalition of mayors and heads of corporations that will emphasize the economic boost immigrants give to the country.

The organization will push the federal government to establish a path to legal status for undocumented individuals living in the United States, better securing the borders using more enforcement and new technology and increasing opportunities for immigrants to enter the country workforce and for foreign students to remain in the United States to work.

“Immigrants have always been an essential part of America’s strength,” Bloomberg said. “This coalition was formed to change our current immigration policy, which is undermining our economy and threatening our status as the world’s leading power. Too many innovative new companies, and the jobs they create, are being formed overseas because entrepreneurs can’t get a green card to start them here.”

Murdoch echoed Bloomberg’s sentiment, noting he himself is an immigrant.

“Immigrants have made America great as the world leader in business, science, higher education and innovation,” Murdoch said. “An immigrant myself, I believe that this country can and must enact new immigration policies that fulfill our employment needs, provide a careful pathway to legal status for undocumented residents and end illegal immigration.”

TimesLedger Newspapers is owned by News Corp.

Among those in the coalition are Mayors Phil Gordon of Phoenix, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Julian Castro of San Antonio and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and CEOs of Hewlett-Packard, the Walt Disney Co., Marriott International and Boeing.

“We couldn’t operate our hotels in the U.S. without workers from other countries,” said J.W. Marriott Jr., chairman and CEO of Marriott International. “In some of our hotels, we have upwards of 50 languages spoken and that diversity represents our customers who travel from around the world to visit our great country. Our business isn’t easy, it is 24/7 and great service to guests can’t be automated or outsourced. We rely on the best, service-oriented talent from the U.S. and around the world to sustain and grow our business.”

More than 50 percent of Queens is made up of immigrants and borough leaders have long called for a massive overhaul of the country’s immigration system.

City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-Jackson Heights) and Make the Road New York Executive Director Ana Maria Archila, among many others, have repeatedly called on President Barack Obama to enact swift immigration legislation.

“While we are glad that President Obama used his considerable rhetorical abilities to condemn this legislation before the governor signed it into law, we want to remind him that if he hopes to count on continued Latino electoral support, he needs to move beyond words and bring his considerable political abilities to the project of passing a just and comprehensive national immigration reform,” Archila said in reference to the recent legislation passed in Arizona that allows law officials to ask anyone for proof of citizenship.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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