Another major South Dakota industry is calling for looser immigration rules to boost its workforce recruiting. At a public forum with Attorney General Marty Jackley in Deadwood May 7, the folks who own Cadillac Jack’s said they need more foreign workers:
Caleb Arceneaux, chief executive officer of Liv Hospitality, LLC said that one of the challenges facing gaming/hospitality in western South Dakota is employment, finding enough associations to take care of business needs, and asked for Jackley’s thoughts on supporting a robust guest worker program, which is being stifled at the federal level right now.
[Jaci Conrad Pearson, “Jackley Talks Gaming, State Stats at Deadwood Meet ‘n Greet,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2015.05.09].
(Liv, by the way, is the Rapid City outfit that had to change its name from ISIS last year, to avoid unpleasant associations with undesirable foreigners.)
Attorney General Jackley freed himself of his jurisdictional perspective and spoke freely as a citizen… or perhaps as a candidate for some other office:
Jackley said he would like to see work force development within the state, developing opportunities with vo-tech programs and colleges and keeping workers within the state.
“We are exporting way too many folks,” Jackley said. “When you get into the immigration issue, I don’t believe we should have a blanket ‘We will make you a citizen program,’ … what needs to happen on immigration is two things. One is to build an essential wall to keep them out in some of the hot areas … from crime, drug influx. The other plan we need is to have a visa program that actually works and is efficient, so if I want to hire immigrants, I have the ability to do that and give them work … put in a work visa program, where they pay taxes, earn their way here, earn their way to citizenship, and it would work” [Conrad Pearson, 2015.05.09].
While our dairy industry and our Congressional delegation shun the idea of extending a path to citizenship for these vital foreign workers, AG Jackley at least mentions the idea of earning citizenship. In my continued search for Jackleyan tea leaves today, could the AG be signaling to his fellow Republicans that they don’t need to fear immigrants becoming voting citizens?
In economic development terms, we now have two major South Dakota industries—tourism and value-added agriculture—recognizing the Aberdeen thesis that immigration is the primary source for South Dakota’s next workforce. This support for immigration is all the more noteworthy given that major players in both of those industries—the Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino, the Dakota Provisions turkey plant, and lots of East River dairies—benefited from the EB-5 visa investment program in the past decade.
Yet the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which brought those immigrant-employing businesses that EB-5 money, currently ignores immigration in its public economic development initiatives. Hmm… did the EB-5 scandal make GOED so gun-shy about dealing with visas and foreigners that they won’t even mention immigration in the press?