Conservative Alliance of business leaders press Congress for immigratin reform

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The nativist and anti-immigrant forces of the Tea Party were hoping to slow-walk immigration reform to death in the House, but on Tuesday a group of more than 600 leaders from roughly 40 states descended on the Capitol, taking aim at House Republicans who they think could support broad legislation. Business-Conservative Alliance Presses for Immigration Action:

On Tuesday, the group of more than 600 leaders from roughly 40 states
descended on the Capitol for meetings with nearly 150 Republican
lawmakers. They are largely taking aim at House Republicans who they
think could support a broad immigration overhaul, including some sort of
legal status for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
The leaders are urging the lawmakers to take a more proactive role in
pushing immigration legislation to a House vote.

“Our fly-in today is about moving votes on the Hill in support of
reasonable immigration reform,” Randel K. Johnson, the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce’s senior vice president for immigration and labor issues, said
in a conference call with reporters. “I’m confident we’re going to move
the ball forward.”

The event’s sponsors include the Chamber of Commerce; FWD.us, a
political action group founded by Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of
Facebook; the National Immigration Forum; and the Partnership for a New
American Economy, which is led by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New
York, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Marriott Jr.

The effort kicked off in the morning with several panel discussions at
the Chamber of Commerce, including one conversation in which the
Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonprofit based in Washington, unveiled a
new study that found a broad immigration overhaul would help the
economy.

The push comes as conflicting messages continue to emerge from the immigration debate on Capitol Hill.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and an author of the
Senate-passed immigration bill that includes a path to citizenship for
those immigrants already in the country illegally, seemed to backpedal
slightly on Saturday. His spokesman told Breitbart News,
a conservative news outlet, that House conservatives should not fall
for a “ruse” that could lead to one of their more narrow, piecemeal
immigration bills being used as vehicle to enter a conference
negotiation between the House and the Senate, from which a broader
immigration bill could emerge.

The Arizona Republic reports, Immigration reform advocates pressure House GOP to end opposition:

Lawmakers have come under an unprecedented wave of lobbying from
immigration-reform supporters on the right and left in recent days,
keeping hopes for the legislation alive in the Republican-controlled
House of Representatives.

A small legion of pro- reform business, religious and law-enforcement
leaders have converged on Capitol Hill this week to press lawmakers for
action, and a comprehensive Democratic bill won its first GOP
supporters.

At the same time, immigrant advocates also are visiting congressional
offices and holding prayer vigils outside lawmakers’ residences, as
happened last week at the Peoria home of U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.

The developments come as time runs short on supporters’ goal of
action on immigration reform before the end of the year. The prognosis
for bipartisan cooperation is grim if work on the issue slides into
2014, a congressional midterm-election year.

* * *

A number of hard-line House Republicans, estimated at 20 to 40
members of Boehner’s GOP conference, have made it clear that they have
no interest in voting for what they consider to be “amnesty” for
undocumented immigrants.

However, reform backers point to encouraging signs in addition to the intense push by the business lobby.

Key House Republicans, including Reps. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Mario
Diaz-Balart of Florida and Darrell Issa of California, reportedly are
working on proposals to address the status of the estimated 11 million
undocumented immigrants who already have settled in the United States,
which is the central issue for Democrats and immigration activists.

The Democrat-controlled Senate on June 27 passed a sweeping reform
bill that included a 13-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants who
pass background checks, pay assessed taxes and fines and take other
steps to get right with the law, as well as a massive investment in
border security.

There are indications that some Republicans are becoming impatient
with the House inaction on piecemeal bills that have been talked about
since the Senate bill passed. Two House Republicans — Reps. Jeff Denham
of California and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida — have become the first
two GOP lawmakers to sign onto a comprehensive immigration bill offered
by House Democrats
.

* * *

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a former 12-year House member who helped
negotiate the Senate bill, said Monday on Twitter that momentum appears
to be building in the House. “That’s good news for Arizona, and the
country,” he said in the message.

For their part, Boehner and his fellow House Republican leaders have
not yet publicly declared immigration reform dead, which even the most
pessimistic reform supporters say means there is still a chance the
House could act in November or early December.

House committees so far have approved five bills, including
legislation to strengthen border security and require employers to use a
federal database to ensure they are hiring people who are legally
eligible to work in the United States.

“The speaker said last week, ‘I still think immigration reform is an
important subject that needs to be addressed. And I’m hopeful,’ ”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday via e-mail. “He added that he supports a step-by-step immigration process.”

* * *

Peoria Vice Mayor Tony Rivero is a conservative Republican who urged
Arizona’s GOP congressmen to support reform this year. His city needs
more farmworkers who are legally authorized to work, and it needs its
undocumented residents to come out of the shadows, he said.

“My message to our congressional delegation is that, as a constituent
and a conservative Republican, I support a solution to this problem,”
Rivero said. “We need to secure the border, identify the people who are
here illegally and put them on a path to legality and put enforcement
measures in place to make sure we aren’t here again in 10 years.”

Former Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said he told members of
Arizona’s congressional delegation that the current immigration system
makes police officers’ jobs more complicated.

“Every community is trying to solve the problem in a different way,”
he said. “In some places, you (an undocumented immigrant) can get a
driver’s license. In some places, you can’t. Some places are very
liberal and report almost no crimes (committed by undocumented
immigrants). Others deport you for just minor infractions. There’s great
confusion among the law-enforcement community about what the rules are
and what their authority is.”

* * *

Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and
Industry, said the group of Arizonans that flew in as part of the U.S.
Chamber-led D.C. visit were going to meet with all nine House members
from Arizona. After morning meetings with Republican Reps. Paul Gosar,
Matt Salmon and David Schweikert, Hamer said the sessions were positive.

“There is complete agreement that we have a busted immigration
system,” he said. “It’s fair to say that there is an understanding that
we need immigration reform. It’s very clear that the House is going to
pass its vision for immigration reform. If it’s simply the Senate bill
or bust, then nothing will happen.”

Flake said he believes the methodical and strategic lobbying by the
business community, faith groups and activist organizations will help
motivate the House. He said he is OK with House Republicans taking a
step-by-step strategy rather than passing a comprehensive bill like the
one he helped craft in the Senate.

“My position is, if you can move it piecemeal or sequentially, that’s
fine,” Flake said. “If you have to go comprehensive, that’s fine. Let’s
get something to the president’s desk.”

Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-reform organization
America’s Voice, said the two House Republicans who signed on to the
alternative Democratic bill also are examples of momentum.

“When that bill was first introduced, it was widely panned as a
Democratic ‘message bill’ that was going nowhere and was setting up the
blame game in a run toward 2014,” Sharry said. “But because Democrats
made the smart move of making sure every policy in the bill was passed
with bipartisan support either in the Senate or the House, it has become
a serious offering and a place where Republicans can go. I think you
will see more Republicans getting on board.”

Because of Boehner’s leadership style and uneasy relationship with
many of his rank-and-file members, Sharry said, it may take “a
convergence and emergence of a critical mass of Republicans to convince
leadership to go forward.”

Frank Sharry described A way forward on immigration reform to Greg Sargent a couple of weeks ago:

It’s a longshot, but in an interview with me, Frank Sharry, the
executive director of pro-immigration America’s Voice, explained how it
would work.

The whole thing turns on this: Sharry tells me that if Eric Cantor goes through with his plan to introduce the so-called “KIDS Act,” which gives citizenship only to the one million DREAMers, immigration advocates and many Dems probably would be prepared to accept it — if Republicans are also willing to go to conference negotiations.

“If the KIDS Act is good on the substance, Republicans will be
surprised at how much love it gets from immigration reform advocates,”
Sharry tells me. “Many of us would encourage Democrats to vote for the
KIDS Act, if in exchange Republicans agree to a bicameral negotiation
where all issues are on the table, including legalization and
citizenship for the 11 million. This would be a stepping stone.”

Even if the KIDS Act is good on substance — which turns on details
involving eligibility requirements for citizenship — it would fall far
short of what immigration advocates are hoping for, because it doesn’t
provide legalization for the 11 million or an achievable path to
citizenship. But here’s why Sharry says it’s acceptable as a stepping
stone to conference.

The idea is to give Republicans a viable path forward. As York reports,
House Republicans are still under pressure from conservatives to not
support anything that places legalization before border security. So
under this scenario, House Republicans could pass security measures
piecemeal, then pass the KIDS Act — which doesn’t include
legalization, isn’t “amnesty,” doesn’t run afoul of the
security-before-legalization rule, and could conceivably get a majority
of House Republicans.

Yes, some conservatives even oppose
the KIDS Act, and some would scream with anger at the notion that House
Republicans would enter into negotiations. But the point is, the only way any reform passes the House is if conservatives are stiff-armed, at least a bit, at some point. This might be the easiest way to do it, because it doesn’t even require Republicans to vote for legalization.

Once in conference, Sharry and other advocates will insist on
citizenship. But the unspoken truth is that there are ways to get
agreement on something approximating comprehensive reform by embracing
legalization with only some citizenship, as I’ve laid out here. Even GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte has endorsed that outcome. Full citizenship is preferable, but this alternate outcome is better than the status quo.

* * *

Given the state of the House GOP caucus, Republicans can’t pass anything other than security measures on their own. So if
they want to pass something, they’d need Dems. The only thing that
could get Dems and a majority of House Republicans (to avoid breaking
the Hastert Rule) is the KIDS Act. The rest unfolds from there.

This is why Tea-Publicans like Sen. Marco Rubio are warning against any bill being passed in the House — "It's a trap!" — because it "could lead to one of their more narrow, piecemeal
immigration bills being used as vehicle to enter a conference
negotiation between the House and the Senate, from which a broader
immigration bill could emerge." Well, no shit, Sherlock. That's how the legislative process works when you are trying to roll obstruction by a tyranny of the minority.

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