Business Groups on CIR: Maybe Next Year13 Jun 2010
Comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) has been elusive as a white whale in the open ocean. The Obama administration, and many Congressional Democrats, are in hot pursuit, chasing what may turn out to be little more than whitecaps on heaving seas. The CIR outline circulated several weeks ago by Senators Reid, Schumer and Menendez has thus far failed to attract any Republican support, leaving most observers to conclude that immigration reform is dead for this year. Indeed, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently said that Congress could wrap up an immigration reform package by March of next year, if not sooner. (See Schumer: Immigration Bill Will Be Done by March, by Jordan Fabian, The Hill, Blog Briefing Room, 04.Jun.2010.)
CIR next year is just fine for many in the business community, according to a recent article in the Baltimore Business Journal. (See Businesses Want Immigration Reform – But Not Just Yet, by Kent Hoover, Baltimore Business Journal, 07-12.May.2010, available online by subscription only.) The article quotes Senator John Kyl (R-AZ), condemning the Reid-Schumer-Menendez proposal as “nothing more than an attempt to score political points.” They might not put it in such partisan terms, but several key business lobbyists seem to have CIR wait until next year. A lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association told the Baltimore Business Journal that only a bipartisan bill could succeed, and that the state of the economy had to be taken into consideration – presumably counseling slow deliberation over all full speed ahead. Immigration reform is not a top priority for the Associated Builders and Contractors, their lobbyist told the BBJ, largely because the economic downturn is a more pressing issue than immigration.
Randall Johnson of the conservative-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who told the Baltimore Business Journal that the Democratic proposal “helps to push the negotiations forward, but I don’t think it will result in a bill that will go to the floor this year,” admonishing that a failed immigration bill this year would make it harder to deal with the issue next year. As the November mid-term elections heave into view, we might imagine we see the flukes of CIR, that great white whale, silhouetted against the horizon, waving goodbye until next year.