Bruce Dusenberry, the CEO and President of Horizon Moving Systems, and former director of UNIGroup, a $1.7 billion transportation and relocation services company, isn’t shy when it comes to discussing immigration. “We’ve restricted things when we get xenophobic, but we’ve also seen President Reagan and the first President Bush do things like set up a mechanism for allowing lawful status for people who were already living here,” says Dusenberry. “For me, it’s not a controversial topic. It’s what makes us stronger in a global economy: recognizing that we’re all on this planet together and finding ways to work together and embrace other cultures and other people’s ideas.”
Dusenberry has long represnted the Arizona business community as a proponent of immigration reform. He helped found the Real Arizona Coalition, an organization of top business leaders who raise awareness about the positive economic impact that immigrants make. “We think that it ultimately helped to lead to the Gang of 8,” he says, referring to the bipartisan group of senators, including Arizona’s John McCain and Jeff Flake, who pushed for immigration reform in 2013. Dusenberry says that people across the political spectrum came together over the issue, from Sandra Day O’Connor to conservative Republican Bill Montgomery, the county attorney in Maricopa County. “They sat down at the table and could agree on what we could do to make immigration reform happen and what it would look like,” says Dusenberry. “It certainly started with having secure borders, which we have.”
The Real Arizona Coalition also played a leadership role in organizing against Senate Bill 1070, the infamous piece of Arizona legislation that required police to determine the immigration status of everyone they arrested or detained if they suspected the person to be undocumented. “The business community realized immediately that that legislation was very horrible to our economy and felt the need to the write the legislature,” Dusenberry recalls. “Because at the time, they had more laws in the hopper that were going to continue those kinds of anti-immigration viewpoints. We wanted to stop it.”
As the CEO of a $25 million company with 300 employees and six offices across the state, the impact of a law like SB1070 and the failure to enact comprehensive reform nationally has immediate consequences.
The system is broken and needs to be remedied so that we can take advantage of the talent that exists in other countries, and allow people to come lawfully to our country and contribute to our success.
“Immigrants have certainly played a role in Horizon’s business,” Dusenberry says. “Because of Arizona’s proximity to Mexico and our large Hispanic population, we have employed many immigrants from Mexico. One particular example is our warehouse supervisor in Tucson, Martin Mendez, who has worked for us for over 15 years. I was proud to sponsor him in getting his green card for employment in the USA. His wife also worked for us for a time as our receptionist. We hire only documented immigrants using the E-Verify system.”
Today, Dusenberry is in the process of retiring and has sold most of his company. But that doesn’t mean the end of his community activism. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Tucson Airport Authority and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, a regional organization for the leaders and CEO’s of Southern Arizona’s major corporations. He also chairs their Strategic Initiatives Committee, and is past president of the Davis-Monthan 50, a civic support organization for Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. In 2009, he was named “Man of the Year” by the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “We believe in supporting our community, giving back, being involved, and making it a better place for everyone.” Dusenberry explains.
To him “everyone” includes immigrants and native-born Americans. Immigration reform is one of the best ways to make Arizona—and the country—a better place. “The system is broken and needs to be remedied so that we can take advantage of the talent that exists in other countries, and allow people to come lawfully to our country and contribute to our success.”