Business Groups Twist Boehner's Arm on Immigration

Image: Business Groups Twist Boehner's Arm on Immigration

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 06:58 AM

By Elliot Jager

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House Speaker John Boehner is under increasing pressure from business groups and companies to move ahead with an immigration reform bill in 2014, The Hill reported.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, International Franchise Association, National Retail Federation, and the U.S. Travel Association — among 600 others — told Boehner in a letter that a "dysfunctional immigration system" was working against the national interest and called for "meaningful immigration reforms this year."

Among the corporate heavy hitters pressing Boehner are Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Google Inc., Caterpillar Inc., and General Electric Co. They have been joined by Catholic bishops and some evangelical Christians.

The groups and companies want the House to move on a comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate last summer and supported by the White House.

House Republicans are concerned that the legislation would make it too easy for illegal immigrants to become citizens, that the immigrants would likely vote Democratic, and that the Obama administration is not doing enough to secure borders and enforce existing immigration laws.

Boehner told a Feb. 6 news conference, "There's widespread doubt that this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws, and it's going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes," The Hill reported.

Business sees immigrants as a complement to U.S.-born workers, both skilled and unskilled. On his blog, Tom Donohue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president, made the case for changing the current law, writing that employers are frequently blocked from hiring American-educated "high-skilled foreign-born professional workers."

Donohue said more can be done to secure the borders and urged "a uniform national mandatory electronic employment verification system."

"There will never be a perfect time for reform," Donohue wrote. "The political landscape isn't going to be any more conducive to reform in two years or four years."

The Daily Caller, citing NumbersUSA polling, said that public opinion is running strongly against bringing in additional foreign workers.

The national survey of 1,000 adults conducted last summer indicated that most people do not believe there is a shortage of workers for construction and service jobs that cannot be filled by Americans.

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