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Los Angeles business and labor leaders urge immigration reform

September 09, 2013|By Cindy Chang

On issues such as raising wages for hotel employees, business and labor are often on opposite sides.

But on Monday, Gary Toebben of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and Maria Elena Durazo of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, joined forces to demand a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country without legal status.

The news conference on the steps of the Chamber's Los Angeles office came as prospects for immigration reform are looking increasingly dim. As lawmakers return from the August recess to focus on the federal budget and a response against Syria, immigration may be pushed back until next year.

"I represent many, many unions, and when those workers ... go to work, they are expected to do their job. We say to the members of Congress: Do your job," said Durazo, the labor federation's executive secretary-treasurer.

Street demonstrations are scheduled for Oct. 5 in 60 cities around the country, along with a mass protest Oct. 8 in Washington, Durazo said.

Toebben, the chamber's president, said tens of thousands of highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs are shut out of the California economy because of current immigration policies.

Workers who lack legal status will contribute more to the economy if they can become citizens, he said.

"By ending the existence of a sub-class in our communities through a fair and attainable path to citizenship, we can bring 11 million aspiring citizens out of the shadows and into the light," Toebben said. "In so doing, we will inject more than a trillion dollars into the U.S. economy over the next decade."

Also speaking at the news conference were representatives from the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, SEIU West and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

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Twitter: @cindychangLA

cindy.chang@latimes.com

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