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Labor Secretary: Immigration Reform Critical For Economic Recovery

Immigration reform, while not at the forefront of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, is believed by some members of the administration to take shape this year.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said he believes an altered migration system could shape the country’s labor force for the better.

Immigration reform got a hearty nod from Obama during his speech. The president went as far as to say it would shrink deficits by $1 trillion in the next two decades.

Perez agrees, saying migrant workers would be critical engine for economic recovery. He says it’s time to bring people out of the underground economy

“They can’t realize their highest, best dreams, and we need to move them out of the shadows and into the sunshine" Perez said. "When immigration reform passes — and again I underscore when, and that when is sometime this year — the high tech sector will have more access to grow their businesses.”

He added that a re-envisioned farm worker program would minimize exploitation. Among the short-term challenges, Perez said visas should be expanded to allow for additional high-skilled labor to be let into the country.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules