Chamber: It’s not too late for immigration reform

The mainstream news media tells us immigration reform is dead. And yet those same news outlets remind us almost daily how immigration reform, or lack thereof, impacts our lives economically, culturally and morally.

The truth is that immigration is part of our past and will shape our future as a nation. A close look at the facts shows how.

I recently moderated an immigration reform panel at Compass Church in Naperville. The information shared was insightful and educational.

First, immigration reform is good for Illinois — and Naperville. In our state alone, one in five business owners are foreign born, and those businesses draw a $5.4 billion income annually. Growing the pool of entrepreneurs by reforming outdated policies would add an estimated $700 billion to our struggling economy over 10 years.

In a nation whose debt hovers in the trillions, waiting until November, or until next year, may do our economy and community more harm than good.

Companies that do business in Naperville, such as Cisco, would benefit immensely from reform if high-skilled visa allocations were expanded for foreign-born workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). These businesses would have access to the talent they need to be successful, to grow and to create new jobs — American jobs — here in Naperville.

Only 85,000 high-skilled visas are made available annually, and that cap is reached within days. Not to mention, we are educating tomorrow’s leaders in U.S. universities only to force them abroad to work for our competitors because of an inadequate supply of visas.

Morally speaking, we’re not just a nation of immigrants, we’re a nation that has long been unwavering in its commitment to protecting and advocating human rights. As we face a humanitarian crisis at the border, perhaps now is the time to be a beacon of hope for those seeking opportunity and better lives for their families.

As members of countless, diverse religious backgrounds have come together in unified support, so too should our congressional representatives. If Christians, Jews, Muslims and Evangelicals can stand united on immigration reform, so can members of Congress.

The panel I moderated last week included members from the Naperville business, faith, education and law enforcement communities who came together to discuss immigration policy. We did so because immigration reform affects us here in our community.

It’s important to encourage our elected representatives, especially those who are not moving forward on this issue, to take note and get on board. The longer we wait, the more we risk the health of our business future in our nation, state and community.

Nicki Anderson is the president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, a 1,500-member organization. She can be reached at or 630-544-3382.



  • Daniel S

    One nation cannot support the entire world of those who seek a better life. Those nations need to be improved, or all nations will flounder.

    2014-07-23 11:56:43 | Reply
  • Don Honda

    Read the Seven LIes of Immigratin Reform that refutes every argument in this article:

    2014-07-23 00:05:54 | Reply