It’s the economy, stupid!

The Republican business sector needs to win out over the anti-immigrant wing

When it comes to the numbers, immigration is ultimately positive for the economy of our country. That is the part that is most appealing to Republicans who are now pushing for immigration reform.

The Republican Party’s dismal showing among Hispanics in the last election revived the efforts of a sector within the party that is opposed to the GOP’s anti-immigrant policies.

Among them, the former Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutierrez, is organizing a super-PAC to collect funds that can be used to push comprehensive immigration reform. The goal is to advance the perspective that a path to legalization for the undocumented means they would pay more taxes, they could secure higher paying jobs, and millions of workers would join the formal economy.

In order for latest legislation proposal to be successful, it will need as much support and muscle from the business sector as possible. We believe that the US Chamber of Commerce, which already supports immigration reform, should put pressure on Congress to make this happen. It is critical that the business sector takes a lead in the House debate on immigration, rather than allowing hard-line legislators to use their committees to seed more fear of immigrants.

Given this, the report that the House will vote this week on a proposal to give more specialized visas and hasten the reunification of families is positive.

However, the precipitous way in which the proposal has emerged is suspicious, given the short time this Congress has left and the fact that is must urgently deal with the fiscal cliff. It is also disturbing that this proposal is isolated from immigration reform conversations already underway. That said, this is still a positive sign that the GOP-dominated House is leaning towards being part of immigration reform.

As the legislation moves forward, caution will need to be exercised. When the moment comes that Congressman Lamar Smith or Steve King try to poison the reform, and they will, the business sector should remember them the celebrated phrase from Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign: It is the economy, stupid!