In a historic, bipartisan, 68-32 vote last June, the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill that included a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, an innovative temporary worker program and increased visa numbers for skilled foreign workers, as well as a nationwide employment eligibility verification system and stricter border control.
This was a result of bipartisan cooperation among lawmakers, business groups, labor unions, agricultural interests and immigration advocates. Although many predicted that the bill would pass in the U.S. House of Representatives, the majority Republican leadership there refuses to bring it up.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the bill would reduce federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the next decade. Furthermore, it is supported by such pro-business and pro-agriculture groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the local Washington Growers League, an influential Eastern Washington agribusiness association working on immigration in an unusual alliance with the Washington Federation of State Employees. Interestingly, the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration has also expressed support.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers needs to represent her constituents, many in business and agriculture, by standing up to House leadership so as to pass this bill.