Leaders of three conservative groups have written to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) advocating that immigration reform be moved forward “whether a comprehensive bill or a piecemeal approach.”
The letter from American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, and American Conservative Union president Al Cardenas encourages tweaks to the bill sent over by the Senate.
“As the House of Representatives considers a number of possible reforms to America’s broken immigration system, we offer support for an overhaul that securesour borders, allows for a market-driven future flow of legal immigrants, and provides a tough but humane process to earned legal status for those undocumented immigrants who wish to stay in the United States and continue to be productive members of our society,” the trio wrote. “The U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that we consider progress. But members of the House will correctly pursue their own legislation. This will ensure that any final product has considerable conservative input, and that certain aspects of the Senate bill are markedly improved.”
Boehner is weighing with his caucus whether to bring the Senate version to the House floor. House negotiators have also been working on their own version, though have been stymied by objections from Democratic leadership.
Norquist, Cardenas, and Holtz-Eakin said the House version should “dramatically increase legal immigration by providing more visas to both low-skilled and high-skilled immigrants.”
“While the Senate bill increases visa caps, it does not go far enough. The House might look to the character of amendments introduced in the Senate that ultimately failed,such as those offered by Senators Lee and Toomey, which would have dramatically increased the cap on low-skilled visas, or Senator Cruz, which would have provided more high-skilled visas,” the letter continues.
“Legislation that moves through the House should also reflect that jobs are the magnets for more immigration, not welfare. The ultimate solution is broad reform of welfare and entitlements, but immigration reform should not make these problems worse in the interim. The Senate bill includes some serious welfare restrictions, but an amendment proposed by Senators Hatch and Rubio would have applied a five-year waiting period for green card holders to apply for Obamacare benefits. Actions such as this to wall off the welfare state are a responsible part of immigration overhaul,” the trio added.
“As conservatives, we believe in free markets and private sector-led economic growth. Unfortunately, both of these are hampered under the current broken immigration system. We urge the House to take up a comprehensive package of immigration reforms – be it one bill or many – that secures our border, increases the legal flow of workers, and deals sensibly with the undocumented population.”