Conservatives Prod House Republicans on Immigration

Thursday, 15 May 2014 10:56 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Republicans hoping to for immigration reform are applying pressure to contrarian conservatives in the House, the Huffington Post reports.

First, Sal Russo, co-founder of the Tea Party Express, penned an op-ed published in Roll Call in which he called for conservatives to "seize on immigration reform as an opportunity for growth" and not let other nations attract talent that could come to the United States.

Citing the Partnership for a New American Economy, Russo writes that by 2018, the United States will be faced with a shortage of more than 235,000 jobs in the fields of science, technology, and engineering. The country also lacks sufficient talent in medicine and has outgrown its current visa programs.

"Today, 40 percent of our Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or child of an immigrant," Russo said. "Much of the new small-business growth in the country is because of legal immigrants. Because we have no visa for entrepreneurs, the most innovative people around the world are starting companies and creating jobs elsewhere. Meanwhile, other countries understand that entrepreneurs are an economic necessity. While we actively turn away future CEOs, the rest of the world is offering incentives to attract new businesses."

Russo stops short of advocating amnesty, but instead suggests making the 11 million illegal immigrants already here "obey the law, pay taxes, and come out of the shadows."

"We have to get them right by the law in exchange for legal status, but not unbridled amnesty," he writes. "This should include penalties, background checks to root out criminals, and the requirement that they learn English, understand the Constitution and be committed to our basic freedoms. We must ensure there is no special pathway to citizenship that puts them in front of people who waited in line."

Also Wednesday, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, organized a media conference call hosted by Partnership for a New American Economy and Americans for Tax Reform — of which Norquist is president — and also included American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas, AOL founder Steve Case, and Russo.

Case agreed with President Barack Obama’s recent statement that the House would need to pass legislation by August or risk immigration reform being a dead issue for the next few years, according to The Hill.

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, says that while he’s working to build support among his GOP counterparts, nothing will happen "until Obama acts to rebuild trust with House Republicans," according to The Hill.

The pro-immigration reform conservatives discussed the results of a survey of 400 Republican primary voters showing almost 70 percent support illegal immigrants gaining legal status or citizenship and would support a candidate "who favored broad immigration reform over one who was focused only on border security and enforcement," according to the Huffington Post.

"Conservatives should be leaders in the immigration reform movement," Russo said. "There are too many bad ideas on immigration reform that too many conservatives have become satisfied with just saying no. But I think we can do better than that by advancing our own conservative ideas for immigration reform."

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