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Unlikely allies push Congress on immigration reform

A motley assortment of conservative leaders - ranging from tea party farmers to tech titans - joined together in Washington on Oct. 29 in a last-ditch effort to urge Congress to vote on immigration reform before congressional re-election campaigns take over their attention next year.

It was a gargantuan undertaking, with 600 conservatives from across the country convening with mostly-Republican members, urging pressure on their leaders to deal with issues related to employment immigration before year's end. While these conservative supporters of immigration reform differ from each other on the details, such as a provision for a "path to citizenship," they are willing to put those differences aside to encourage Congress to resume debate on immigration.

Until recently, liberal activists have been the ones pushing for reform, appealing to lawmakers' compassion for families broken by deportation, and warning that a Latino voter base might respond better to politicians who share their concerns. However, this coalition included groups who have historically been Republicans' biggest supporters, such as the Western Growers Association. Tom Nassif, president of the California group, favors the path to citizenship but will accept a compromise of legal work authorization for immigrant workers. Faced with a 20 percent shortage of labor, some growers have been forced to move their operations to other countries.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been at the forefront of the business coalition for immigration reform, reminding Congress that with the business community's support come conditions.

"The sand in the hourglass is running low," warned Bloomberg's chief adviser in front of an audience of hundreds of attendees at a morning conference at the Chamber of Commerce's U.S. headquarters. He said, "Doing nothing just risks the world passing us by. Our message is loud. It's clear. It's simple. And if Congress doesn't listen, they can rest assured that our support may not be there in the next election."

In spite of all the pressure being brought to bear on lawmakers, whether immigration reform will come to a vote this year is anybody's guess. Change will bring challenges requiring the legal expertise of immigration attorneys, but legal advice and assistance in gaining permanent legal residency is helpful in any political climate.

Source:, "Business, conservatives push lawmakers on immigration" Franco Ordonez, Oct. 29, 2013

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