Immigration reform advocates are stepping up their lobbying efforts to get a bill moving before the rapidly approaching end of the year, including the group behind the Conservative Political Action Conference.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room this morning “to discuss the importance of taking action to pass commonsense immigration reform to bolster U.S. economic growth,” according to the White House.
“America needs immigration reform,” said a statement from the American Conservative Union and American Principles in Action released around the same time. “With over 76 million ‘Baby Boomers’ retiring by 2030 and only 46 million Americans poised to take their place in the workforce, it’s clear we need a forward-looking market-based immigration policy which allows for a growing economy and a labor blueprint that plans for the future.”
“In addition, we are faced with the reality that our current immigration system is dysfunctional: it encourages illegal immigration, does not meet the labor needs of our economy and does not adequately enforce our laws or secure our borders. Conservatives support immigration reform that spurs economic growth and the creation of good jobs for Americans, protects families, promotes the patriotic assimilation of immigrants and ensures that another wave of illegal immigration does not happen again,” the statement continued.
“The House of Representatives is in a unique position to propose genuinely conservative solutions to fix our broken immigration system. We, therefore, encourage the House to continue its work to address the different aspects of the immigration issue in a piecemeal basis through regular order. We recognize that the House Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees have already passed important legislation that would go a long way in solving many of our immigration problems. A conservative package of immigration bills should provide legal status to undocumented immigrants, but not a special path to citizenship; should establish market-oriented mechanisms to meet the demand our economy has for foreign workers at different levels of our labor market; and should set border security triggers that are based on precise measurements that can be verified independently.”
Signatories of the letter included Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles; Jeff Bell, policy director of the American Principles Project; Frank Cannon, president of the American Principles Project; Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Lawson Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute; Brad Bailey of the Texas Immigration Solution; Diana Furchotgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute; Ed Gillespie, former RNC chairman; Robert Gittleson of Conservatives for Immigration Reform; Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. secretary of Commerce; Deal Hudson of the Pennsylvania Catholic Network; Niger Innis of Congress of Racial Equality; Tamar Jacoby of ImmigrationWorksUSA; Dr. Richard Land of Southern Evangelical Seminary and Bible College; Mario H. Lopez of the Hispanic Leadership Fund; Rosario Marin, former U.S. treasurer; Rev. Sam Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference/Hispanic Evangelical Association; and Thomas Winter of Humanevents.org.
“If President Obama and the Democrats are willing to kill immigration reform in the House because they disagree with these principles, it would show that they are more interested in using the issue politically than actually solving the problem. Moreover, House Republicans should only agree to go to conference if Senate Democrats can ensure that there will be a level playing field for open debate and discussion and that they will not try to impose their own bill.”
Before his meeting, Obama said he’s working with companies that “understand that if we are serious about border security, if we do a better job of streamlining the legal immigration system, if we are holding employers who aren’t doing the right thing accountable, and we provide a pathway to citizenship for those who have paid a fine, learned English, are getting to the back of the line, taking their responsibilities — that all together, these businesses are going to have more customers, we’re going to see people who are currently working here, out of the shadows, paying taxes and getting right with the law.”
“Keep in mind that my predecessor, George W. Bush, was a strong supporter of this,” Obama added. “We have a fascinating cross-section of people — some unlikely bedfellows, some very liberal folks, some very conservative folks — who all believe that now is the time to get this done. And as we saw in the Senate, there is the strong potential for bipartisan support.”
“…The politics are challenging for the Speaker and others, and we want to make it as easy for him as possible. This is not an issue where we’re looking for a political win. This is one where we’re looking for a substantive win for the U.S. economy and the American people and the businesses that are represented here.”