Immigration Reform to be a Top Chamber Priority

Jan 17, 2013

Leaders from industries representing “Bibles, badges and business” are working together to forge a new consensus on immigration reform.

The U.S. Chamber’s Tom Donohue joined other business, faith, and law enforcement leaders at a press conference to urge Congress to work together and pass broad immigration reform in 2013. The January 17 event was hosted by the National Immigration Forum and held at the National Press Club.

“Immigration reform isn’t just a problem to be solved; it’s an opportunity to be seized,” Donohue told reporters. “We intend to make immigration one of our top priorities at the Chamber this year.”

Donohue gave a similar statement during his recent State of American Business address, noting that the Chamber was already in talks with labor unions, faith organizations and ethnic groups, and law enforcement to build a coalition for comprehensive reform. “We will find a balance in these issues,” Donohue says.

Donohue and other leaders outlined the major tenets of comprehensive immigration legislation: increased border security, provisional visas for lesser-skilled workers and expansion of green cards for foreign nationals who receive advanced degrees from U.S. colleges and universities, and a national employee verification system.

Donohue also said he favors a path to legalization and citizenship for illegal immigrants. “We need to provide a path out of the shadows for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the United States today — provided that they meet certain conditions,” he said.

After years of ill-fated efforts, there is momentum in the White House and Congress to tackle the politically charged issue, according to Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “In the past 18 months, Americans across the political spectrum have come together to seek a new, commonsense immigration process. The leaders we’ve assembled today hold a Bible, wear a badge or own a business, and are ready to call on Congress to work together on immigration,” Noorani said.

Donohue and Noorani were joined by Carlos Gutierrez, Vice Chairman of Citigroup; Attorney General Gregory F. Zoeller (R-IN), Barrett Duke, Vice President for Public Policy and Research, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Amb. (retired) Johnny Young, Executive Director of Migration and Refugees Services with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Gutierrez, who worked on the last attempt at comprehensive immigration reform five years ago as Commerce Secretary, said he's creating a super PAC to  put additional firepower into the fight this go round. "We're going to put money behind the problem." Gutierrez said that he was working out the details to create Republicans for Immigration Reform, a super PAC to help politicians “come out and admit that they are for immigration reform.” 

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