Representatives from S.C. tourism, agriculture and construction industries said Tuesday that immigration reform would bring much needed workers and customers to South Carolina.
The business leaders participated in a phone call with reporters Tuesday, hosted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a national pro-immigration reform group hoping to build momentum for an immigration reform proposal currently residing in the U.S. House of Representatives.
President Barack Obama is also trying to revive immigration reform, speaking about it in San Francisco on Monday when he was interrupted by a heckler.
On Tuesday's conference cal, Hannah Horne, Director of Public Policy and Small Business for the Hilton Head Island -- Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, said that immigration reform not only would give some industries access to more workers -- "(I)mmigration reform also allows a conversation about allowing our customers into the country," she said.
Horne said tourism leaders have a "robust, exciting ambitious marketing plan" that has recently targeted Brazil. But in order to attract visitors from that country, "we're going to need a relaxed visa waiver program," she said.
Chalmers Carr, with the Palmetto Agriculture Business Council and owner of Titan Farms, said a guest worker program and giving current undocumented workers a legal way to remain in the country are essential for the agriculture industry.
"Agriculture is a place where workers start" before moving on to other jobs, he said. "We're going to have to have a future flow of workers if agriculture is going to stay robust in this country."
Also on the call was Matt Niehaus, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Home Builders Association of South Carolina, and Jeremy Robbins with the Partnership for a New American Economy.