U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue renewed his call for comprehensive amnesty legislation, and backed it up with a letter to Speaker John Boehner from 636 businesses and related groups. Meanwhile on the left, MoveOn.org and other groups are pressuring Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to jumpstart action with a discharge petition.
Donahue posted a blog yesterday on his organization's web site that argued so-called immigration reform is essential because businesses are unable to hire foreign workers with a variety of skill levels. “Our current system is broken,” Donahue wrote. “Employers are often unable to hire new high-skilled foreign-born professional workers—even those who are educated in the United States. Why? Because hiring caps were set more than 20 years ago when our economy was one-third its current size. And Congress hasn’t allocated for a single temporary foreign worker to legally enter our country for lesser-skilled year-round jobs—even if a business can’t find sufficient numbers of qualified and interested Americans through rigorous local labor market recruitment.”
Today, Donahue posted a letter to Boehner signed by 636 businesses and related organizations that recommended moving forward based on the GOP leadership's “standards” for reform. "Failure to act is not an option," the letter said. "We cannot afford to be content and watch a dysfunctional immigration system work against our overall national interest. In short, immigration reform is an essential element of a jobs agenda and economic growth. It will add talent, innovation, investment, products, businesses, jobs, and dynamism to our economy."
The Chamber was a key player in the development of the Senate’s comprehensive amnesty bill (S. 744) approved last June. The negotiations between the Chamber and the AFL-CIO over expanded guest worker programs for high-skilled and other workers were the lynchpin that enabled the Senate to move forward. Then promises of more border security, real or not, cemented the deal. 68 senators, including just 14 Republicans, voted for the bill.
With immigration on hold in the House, the Chamber is again pushing Republicans to make a deal based on Boehner’s immigration standards. Donahue faces tough odds, however, according to a whip count the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call published today. Roll Call found only 19 Republicans back the principles, two who said “possibly yes,” 30 Republicans who openly opposed them, and 22 who refused to say. Most of the others were either undecided or failed to respond.
Republicans have a reputation for being business-friendly, so the Chamber and others are hoping to hit pay dirt with their latest push. But a number of influential groups on the left are now mounting a campaign to spur Democrats into action. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the lead sponsor of the Senate-passed bill, had called upon the House to use a discharge petition to force floor votes on a comprehensive amnesty bill. Now three progressive groups are joining in. CREDO Action, MoveOn.org and the Daily Kos are gathering signatures on a petition directed at Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that calls on her to use a discharge petition.
"Every week that we fail to pass immigration reform more families are broken up," said Becky Bond, CREDO's political director. "Nancy Pelosi has shown leadership time and time again when it comes to the most pressing challenges -- she can do so once more by filing a discharge petition and fix[ing] our broken and abusive immigration system."