President Barack Obama invited a group of business leaders including America Online Inc. co- founder Steve Case to the White House today in a joint effort to press the Senate to pass the first major revision to U.S. immigration law since 1986.
With a critical test vote on the bill scheduled later today, Obama is seeking to maintain momentum for Senate passage by highlighting the economic benefits of the legislation that would make it easier for skilled workers to get visas, tighten border security and create a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
“It’s time to fix our broken immigration system once and for all,” Obama said in his weekly address on June 22.
Today’s White House meeting will include a review of a Congressional Budget Office report that said the Senate bill would reduce the federal deficit over the next 10 years by $175 billion, and by about $700 billion over the following decade, as tax collections rise. The economy would grow an addition 3.3 percent in the next decade, the CBO said, as investment and productivity increase.
“Eight CEOs and business owners will meet with the president to discuss the importance of fixing our broken immigration system -- and making sure that every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules and paying taxes like everyone else,” the White House said in a statement.
Senate Democratic leaders say they want to pass a bill before July 4. Senators Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who have been working on the legislation, said yesterday the measure might win as many as 70 votes in the 100-member Senate. The next challenge is in the House, where lawmakers are divided on the issue and Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, have the majority.
Business trade groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable, have joined organized labor to support the bill.
Along with Case, currently chairman and chief executive of venture-capital firm Revolution LLC, the others scheduled to attend the White House gathering are Jason Berry, owner of Blueberry Farms of Georgia and Berry Farms; Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president and chief executive of Ethan Allen Interiors Inc.; Sunil Puri, founder, First Rockford Group Inc., a real estate firm; Dilawar Syed, chief executive of Yonja Media Group; Hamdi Ulukaya, chief executive, founder and president of Chobani Inc., producer of Chobani Greek yogurt; Bricia Lopez, co-owner of the Guelaguetza Restaurante in Los Angeles, and San Francisco area entrepreneur Alex Torrenegra.
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