By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
Cranford pizzeria owner Anthony Scuderi is among a group of small business owners calling on federal lawmakers to address immigration reform.
“Most restaurants today I would attempt to say maybe 50 percent of them, employees are probably immigrants. They come here because of the jobs. Of course if we didn’t need them, they wouldn’t be coming here,” Scuderi, owner of IL Giardino, said.
“You do depend on them. It’s very difficult to get people to work doing these jobs, menial jobs the American people don’t want to do,” said Frank Vasfailo of Brick Oven Restaurant.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, unauthorized immigrants made up 3.7 percent of the nation’s population and 5.2 percent of its labor force in March 2010.
The Senate passed a bill that would give the estimated 11 million undocumented people in this country a path to citizenship. Congressman Leonard Lance isn’t certain he supports that plan.
“I am not sure citizenship. I’d like to bring those who are in the shadows out of the shadows. I believe deeply in rule of law and I’m not sure that that would require citizenship for those who came to this country illegally as adults,” Lance said.
Lance believes border security must be the nation’s first priority.
“I was recently at our southern border in San Diego and south of Tuscan, Arizona. And then on the Rio Grande River in South Texas. There has been some improvement, but we need greater improvement,” said Lance.
But business owners say states like New Jersey have other pressing needs, like creating a path to citizenship for the 550,000 undocumented people living in New Jersey.
Among them, an immigrant from Mexico who does not want to be identified. “It’s a big difference if we got our papers. People who have papers, they don’t want to work. We do those kind of jobs. We don’t care. We just came to work,” he said.
“There’s a lot of money in taxes and revenue that can be created by them being citizens of the United States,” said Scuderi.
But a group called FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, paints a much different picture. It says the illegal immigrants in New Jersey cost state taxpayers about $2 billion a year for medical care, education and incarceration.
It’s information like this that Congress will have to consider as it takes up immigration reform in the fall.