Business and reform

Pressure from the private sector is key to passing comprehensive reform

When it comes to immigration reform, the financial aspect is as important as the human side. However, pressure from the business sector has the potential to persuade lawmakers that otherwise they would oppose this reform.

A case in point is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which recently included this reform among its priorities along with deregulation, decreasing the fiscal debt and energy policy.

Once again yesterday, U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue talked to religious leaders about how it is important for the economy to attract scientific and professional talent and allow them to stay, and also to legalize the situation of millions of undocumented immigrants.

We hope the Chamber’s lobbyists exert pressure on many conservative GOP lawmakers who are opposed to immigration so that they change their minds.

It is also significant that influential anti-tax activist Grover Norquist advocated for immigration reform in Topeka, Kansas last Tuesday, hosted by a pro-reform business coalition. There, in the home field of Kansas secretary of state and architect of SB 1070 Kris Kobach, Norquist compared reform opponents to the “stupid” people who refused to change the speed limit.

Let’s hope Norquist commits the same attention and fervor in Washington to promoting comprehensive immigration reform as he does to reducing federal government spending.

Also recently, the Agricultural Workforce Coalition was created to combine the efforts of the main agricultural organizations in advocating for immigration reform. Its goal is to achieve an “adjustment of status for experienced” agricultural workers.

This commitment from the business sector is an important piece of the puzzle for comprehensive reform—which in order to be balanced must respond to concerns about border enforcement, the legal status of the undocumented and contributions to the various parts of the economy.

The Chamber of Commerce, Norquist and the agricultural coalition had been working until not long ago on a common goal: decreasing estate taxes. They are now coinciding around immigration reform, and this is key in mobilizing a vote in Congress that usually only supports restrictive and punitive legislation aimed at undocumented immigrants.

Immigration is such a broad issue that it encompasses many aspects of American life. That is why comprehensive reform will only happen when all interested parties and beneficiaries get out there and promote it with the same fervor as other causes. Recent events signal that the business sector started to do its part.