Immigration Reform 2013: Top GOP Donors Urge Republican Lawmakers Against Standing In The Way Of Reform

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Immigration Reform Wash DC April 2013
People rally in favor of comprehensive immigration reform while on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 2013.

Top Republican donors who support comprehensive immigration reform are calling on GOP members of Congress to refrain from opposing an overhaul of the system, for the sake of the economy.

The more than 100 big names include former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, who is leading the effort, along with Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff in the George W. Bush administration, and former Vice President Dan Quayle -- all of whom signed a letter sent Tuesday that urged lawmakers to fix the system, according to the New York Times.

“Standing in the way of reform ensures that we perpetuate a broken system that stifles our economy, leaves millions of people living in America unaccounted for, maintains a porous border, and risks a long-lasting perception that Republicans would rather see nothing done than pass needed reform,” the letter read. “That is not the path for the Republican Party.”

Instead, the donors argue for reform that appears falls in line with and includes much of what appeared in the Senate-passed 2013 immigration reform bill: securing the border, creating a system to verify that U.S.-based companies hire workers with legal immigration status, and providing a path to a legal status for the undocumented immigrant population. The wealthy donors said these immigrants must pay penalties and back taxes, pass a criminal background check and head to the back of the line.

“We firmly believe that with meaningful action on immigration reform, there is opportunity for both good policy and good politics for Republicans,” the letter read.

Immigrants, they wrote, are “often entrepreneurial, family-minded and guided by faith.”

“These are Republican values,” the letter read. “Immigrants play key roles at every level of the American economy -- from high-skill workers to seasonal laborers, from big-city neighborhoods to small town main streets, immigrants help drive our economic growth. These are Republican issues. Republicans ought to be welcoming immigrants and be seen as doing so.”

It took 14 Republican senators to cross the aisle to get the reform bill passed in the upper chamber last month. In the House, immigration has so far been a low-priority item, as GOP leaders focus their attention on defunding Obamacare and the IRS and Benghazi affairs, which they have defined as “scandals.” A bipartisan group in the House has been working on comprehensive legislation for approximately four years but has missed every self-imposed deadline. So far, bills passed by the committees in the House focus more on border security, E-verify for employers, and visas for high-skilled and agriculture workers. House Republicans have only just begun discussing the issue of legal status for undocumented immigrants, but they are only considering such status for children brought to America “through no fault of their own” presently.

The House will soon recess for a monthlong break. When members return in September, they will have just nine legislative days left to complete the overhaul. Congress is yet to pass a formal budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which means that to keep the federal government's agencies running beyond Sept. 30, it will need a continuing resolution, or a temporary appropriations bill. But even that spending bill is facing its own battles, as a group of Republicans do not want to support the resolution unless it goes hand in hand with defunding the new healthcare law.

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