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Arizona CEOs say 'no' to immigration bills

The state legislature's focus on illegal immigration is hurting the state, a group of 60 Arizona business leaders said Tuesday.

"We strongly believe it is unwise for the Legislature to pass any additional immigration legislation," said a letter to state Senate President Russell Pearce, signed by executives from around the state.

The letter said that immigration issues, including changing the 14th Amendment's guarantee of birthright citizenship, are best left to Congress.

The state's move to enact immigration legislation has hurt Arizona's economy and brand, the letter said.

The list of signers included Tucsonans Jim Gentile, Jim Click Jr, Roger Vogel, Michael Duran, Bruce Beach, Doug Pruitt, Brian Johnson, Peter Likens, Bruce Dusenberry, Donald Pitt, Alan Klein, Michael Kasser, Janice Cox and Frances Merryman.

"Arizona’s business community understands the Legislature’s frustration with the lack of leadership at the federal level on immigration reform and we agree our borders must be protected first," Todd Sanders, CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, said in a press release.

"However, we strongly believe it is unwise, and quite frankly devastating, for Arizona to continue to push additional immigration legislation at the state level. President Obama and Congress must implement meaningful changes to our antiquated immigration system," Sanders said.

Following last year's controversial SB 1070, the legislature is debating a slew of new immigration-related measures, including laws on citizenship, employment, hospital treatment, and the availability of public services.

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CEOs on immigration letter

Dear President Pearce,

Thank you for your willingness to serve Arizona as a Member of the Arizona State Senate. We, like you, are concerned about the challenges facing our State, particularly the need to address our structural deficit and insure an economic environment that attracts and retains high quality jobs.

While we recognize the desire for states like Arizona to fill the leadership vacuum left by federal inaction on immigration, we strongly believe it is unwise for the Legislature to pass any additional immigration legislation, including any measures leaving the determination of citizenship to the state.

We agree with you that our borders must be protected first, and now. We also believe that market-driven immigration policies can and should be developed by the federal government that will sustain America's status as a magnet for the world's most talented and hard-working people and preserve our ability to compete in the global economy.

If the Legislature believes it is worthwhile to debate the question of citizenship, we believe that debate is best held in the U.S. Congress. Already, Senators David Vitter of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky have introduced legislation aimed at amending the 14th Amendment to deny "birthright citizenship" to those born to individuals living in the U.S. illegally. Iowa Rep. Steve King has introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House.

Arizona's lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration. But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur. Last year, boycotts were called against our state's business community, adversely impacting our already-struggling economy and costing us jobs. Arizona-based businesses saw contracts cancelled or were turned away from bidding. Sales outside of the state declined. Even a business which merely had "Arizona" in its name felt the effects of the boycotts, compelling them to launch an educational campaign about their company's roots in Brooklyn. It is an undeniable fact that each of our companies and our employees were impacted by the boycotts and the coincident negative image.

Tourism, one of our state's largest industries and employment centers, also suffered from negative perceptions after the passage of SB 1070. The fact Governor Brewer directed $250,000 to repairing Arizona's reputation strongly suggests these efforts – whether fair or unfair - are harmful to our image.

Let us be clear: our dissension with legislative action on the state level does not translate to our being "pro-illegal immigration." To the contrary, we believe Congress must address border security, identity theft, sound and implementable employment verification systems and policies and the creation of a meaningful guest worker program. Therefore, we urge the Legislature to redirect its energy by joining us in pressing the federal government for meaningful immigration reform. Together, we can get results.


  • Drew Brown, Managing Director, DMB Associates, Inc.
  • Philip Francis, Executive Chairman, PetSmart; Chairman, GPL
  • Ronald Butler, Arizona Managing Partner, Ernst & Young
  • W. Douglas Parker, Chairman, President/CEO, U.S. Airways Group
  • Ronald Brown, President, Atrium Holding Company
  • Richard Dozer, Chairman, GenSpring Family Offices
  • Stephen Rizley, Sr. Vice President/General Mgr., Cox Communications, Inc.
  • Daniel Connor, President/CEO, Blood Systems
  • John Graham, President, Sunbelt Holdings
  • Peter Fine, President/CEO, Banner Health
  • Craig Phelps, Provost, A.T. Still University
  • Jeff Whiteman, President/CEO, Empire Southwest LLC
  • Thomas Sadvary, President/CEO, Scottsdale Healthcare
  • William Coats, Chief Executive Officer, The Leona Group
  • Herman Chanen, Chairman/CEO, The Chanen Corporation
  • Lee Hanley, Chairman/CEO, Vestar Development Company
  • William Schubert, Chairman, Kitchell Corporation
  • Jon Pettibone, Managing Partner, Quarles & Brady LLP
  • Paul Dykstra, Chairman, President/CEO, Viad Corporation
  • David Bruno, Vice Chairman, Managing Director, DHR International, Inc.
  • Marty Laurel, Vice President, Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ
  • James Gentile, President/CEO, Research Corp for Science Adv.
  • Roger Vogel, Chairman, President/CEO, Vante Medical Technologies
  • Michael Duran, Vice President, Chief Dev. Off., TMC Healthcare/TMC Found.
  • F. Michael Geddes, Chairman, President, Geddes and Company
  • Bruce Beach, CEO, BeachFleischman PC, Chairman, SALC
  • J. Doug Pruitt, Chairman/CEO, Sundt Construction, Inc.
  • Brian Johnson, Managing Director, Loews Ventana Canyon
  • Peter Likins, President Emeritus, University of Arizona
  • Robert Delgado, President/CEO, Hensley Beverage Company
  • Michael Kennedy, President, Gallagher & Kennedy P.A.
  • Bruce Dusenberry, President, Horizon Moving Systems, Inc.
  • Robert Underwood, Chief Executive Officer, Underwood Brothers, Inc.
  • Shelly Esque, Vice President, Legal/Corp Affairs, Intel Corporation
  • Denise Resnik, President, Denise Resnik & Associates
  • Vince Roig, Chairman/CEO, Helios Foundation
  • Constance Perez, Chief Executive Officer, Adreima
  • Susan Williams, President/Founder, HR Choice
  • Kevin Sandler, President/CEO, ExhibitOne Corporation
  • Debbie Johnson, President/CEO, Arizona Hotel & Lodging Assoc
  • Jim Click, Jr., President, Jim Click Automotive
  • David Cohen, Executive Vice President, Team BeachFleishman PC
  • Donald Pitt, President, Campus Research Corporation
  • Alan Klein, Board Chair, So. Arizona Lodging & Resort Ass.
  • Michael Kasser, President, Holualoa Companies
  • Linda Hunt, Area President, CHW Arizona, President/CEO, St. Joseph's Hosp
  • John Zidich, CEO/Publisher, Arizona Republic
  • Howard Fleischmann, Owner, Community Tire & Auto Repair
  • Nancy Stone, President, ILX Resorts, Inc.
  • Janice Cox, Retired CEO, Carondelet Foundation
  • Don Budinger, Chairman/Founding Director, The Rodel Foundations
  • David Anderson, President, Off Madison Avenue
  • Steven Wheeler, Chairman, Greater Phoenix Chamber
  • Bill Calloway, Plant Manager, Nestle-Purina, Flagstaff
  • J.R. Murray, Chairman, Flagstaff Forty
  • Kenneth Lamneck
  • Frances Merryman
  • The following inclusion of names is authorized, but signatures were not available at the time of printing.
  • Reginald Ballantyne III, Senior Corporate Officer, Vanguard Health Systems, Inc.
  • Gerrit van Huisstede, Regional President, Wells Fargo Bank
  • Earl Petznick, Jr., President/CEO, Northside Hay Company

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 4 »

Mar 17, 2011, 12:10 pm
-1 +0

Then we have California state legislative committee last Tuesday passing two bills that would make students of illegal parents qualified for some forms of financial aid. Guess it goes with the grain of the majority occupants seated in the Sacramento Capitol who are Tax and Spend leftists.  If the Sanctuary State of California didn’t have enough financial problems, with a $26 billion dollar State deficit and counting and has just issued lay-off notices to 20.000 teachers statewide, adding 30.000 teachers already terminated in the past three years. The Liberal leadership is going out its own, to extend in-state tuition to the children of illegal aliens settled in the State. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed three earlier versions of these measures; co-sponsors are more buoyant this year, as Gov. Jerry Brown campaigned in support of what is known as the California Dream Act.

Mar 17, 2011, 12:09 pm
-1 +0

Sanctuary States future lament

The Utah taxpayers will pay a hefty price, if the fed’s tolerating them to enact their own Guest Worker program?  This will bring in more family members and start the whole routine of “Chain Migration” snowballing again. Those parents are slipping across the fragmentary border, with a guide book telling them how to deceive the welfare system in any State. Those illegal parents have figured out that by getting an IRS ITIN number they can pay a few taxes, but have also acquired the knowledge to fraudulently get those taxes returned to that Father and Mother interchanging the children, to pilfer the child tax rebate tax code or even a cousin or sister applying for a rebate for the same child. But rest assured if Immigration and Customs Service approves of Utah’s Guest Worker visa, there will be enraged condemnation rising to the surface against President Obama’s czars whom have flamed the people’s passions by trying to derail Arizona’s policing laws.

I think US taxpayers today are so angry after alerted to the outrageous costs catering mindlessly to the illegal immigration invasion. Even in my blogging’s, comments and my own E-mails responses, dutiful, Liberals are beginning to see the light, that American society cannot sustain the burden of paying the way of illegal immigrants and their extended families. Unfunded mandates seem to abound within the Liberal, Democratic and even Republican Party member’s ideologies, as even the courts have declared we must financially entertain anybody who crosses our border or who stays on a expired visa. Once our own children’s schools were places of high performance and now they are weighed down with foreign kid’s, who has American-English as a second language, as at the same time the hospitals are seeing volumes of sick foreigners, for serious or minor treatments.

Mar 17, 2011, 12:08 pm
-1 +0

So as always for the Leftists who are more favorable to illegal alien children, than students from outside the State, who must pay full tuition even though they were born here or naturalized. Hosting America’s largest population of illegal immigrants, The State bears a mammoth costs to supply basic human services for this rapid growing, low-income segment of an illegal population. A new study from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has projected the costs of education, health care and incarceration of illegal aliens, and concluded that the costs to Californians taxpayers is $10.5 billion annually and rising. Among the key decision from the report that the California already has a besieged K-12 education system that spends approximately $7.7 billion a year to educate the children of illegal aliens who now amount to 15 percent of the student body.

Another $1.4 billion of the taxpayers’ pilfered pocket goes en route for providing health care to illegal aliens and their families; this same amount is taken from taxpayers incarcerating illegal aliens criminals.  Utah and other States catering to the illegal alien swarms, need to recognize the economic disaster that will befall them,  if they do not implement policing laws that include E-Verify, to detect workplace foreign workers,  local police laws 287(g) and the latest policing law Secure Communities.  Illegal immigrants will flow unfettered into soft enforcement States and overrun the welfare system as they have in California, Nevada and other undisclosed refuge States.  Taxes will spiral; crime and other emerging issues in neighborhoods where foreign nationals congregate.

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