The high-stakes overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws faces a little-noticed obstacle — the reluctance of many GOP legislators to accept the political trade offered by President Barack Obama and his fellow progressives.
“We’re split all over the place,” Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks told The Daily Caller.
It’s a fight that combines Obama’s progressives with chicken processors and software moguls, pitting them against about 200 GOP legislators, who are looking for ways to not anger any employers, or any of their donors or all-important voters.
Democrats pushing the Senate’s complex bill would quickly earn boost their voting bloc to the tune of 11 million amnestied illegals, plus 22 million new immigrants that would be welcomed by 2023. The potential gain for GOP legislators? They could provide their business allies with immediate access to the 33 million immigrant workers and customers, plus up to two million temporary guest-workers per year.
But most GOP legislators are balking at the trade, partly because the GOP’s own voters strongly oppose the import of more workers during an extended recession.
If made law, the Senate bill would annually add one immigrant and one guest-worker to the labor force for every two Americans who turn 18, amid high unemployment and accelerating automation.
Democrats want immigrants to get a quick route to citizenship, but “Republicans are going to be split on this,” said Tamar Jacoby, founder of ImmigrationWorks USA, which represents employers in the restaurant, hotel and construction sectors.
“Will more [Republicans] be wanting to limit the numbers or will more see the labor needs?… I’m hopeful enough that most will understand the labor needs,” Jacoby told TheDC.
Advocates for the deal say up to 100 of the 233 Republican members support a deal that would provide work-permits to the 11 million illegals, while delaying the illegals’ path to the ballot box past 2025.
But the GOP will encounter intense public opposition to the arrival of even more foreign workers. The opposition is so strong that advocates for greater immigration rarely publish any polling numbers on the topic. Meanwhile, advocates for reduced immigration tout polls showing that as few as 2 percent of respondents strongly favor the arrival of more foreign workers.