Commerce chief defends raids

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Dallas Morning News/Dianne Solis/[[March 22, 2007]]/ link

Subtitle: Drain on labor force illustrates need for legalized path, he says

Describes the same press conference as Secretary calls for reform

Immigration raids – much like the ones at Swift and Company meatpacking plants across the country in December – may wipe out workforces, but federal laws need to be enforced, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez told business leaders in Dallas on Wednesday.

..."If we continue with the raids, we are going to be without workers," Mr. Gutierrez said in Spanish at a news conference. In English, he added, "That is why we need comprehensive reform."

...The U.S. economy needs more workers, Mr. Gutierrez said. The population between the ages of 25 and 54, over the next seven years, is expected to grow at 0.3 percent, said the former chief executive of cereal giant Kellogg Co. "That essentially suggests that we are not going to produce enough workers."

...Mr. Gutierrez was at Dallas' Hotel Crescent Court to speak before a closed gathering of a year-old coalition known as the Texas Employers for Immigration Reform. On its board is Bill Hammond, president of the Austin-based Texas Association of Business, one of the state's biggest trade groups.

"(The touchback provision) is possibly an unworkable requirement for both employees and employers," (Hammond) said.