Support for Immigration Reform Is Winning Hearts and Minds

Assistant Director of Communications

April 4, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Faith and business leaders are challenging assumptions and changing hearts and minds.

As leaders urge a vote on immigration reform this year, the case has hardened that reform will bring stability and prosperity to American farms, businesses, the high-tech industry, churches and law enforcement offices.

“Conservative faith, law enforcement and business leaders are running out of patience because our broken immigration system is holding us back. Their goal is a permanent answer from Congress, and legislative stalling tactics are wearing thin,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum

Business leaders are winning minds with convincing arguments that reform is urgent from farms to high-tech incubators. In California and across the country, farmers are fed up with labor shortages that threaten their livelihoods. Agriculture leaders say continued inaction could cause farmers’ donations and support for Republicans to wither.

Mike Gempler, head of the  Washington Growers League, told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, “We want to see the leadership, including Cathy [McMorris Rodgers], move on this. The chances for getting immigration reform are lessening quickly. If we don’t get this done by August recess, we’re going to be in trouble as an industry.”

The call for reform spans the labor spectrum, as Tom Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association, and Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs, demonstrate in their recent joint op-ed in the Sacramento Bee. “The fact is our economy needs both the skilled farmworker and the skilled engineer,” they wrote.

The tech sector also responded this week to the window for companies to be rewarded H-1B visas, which cover high-wage, often high-tech jobs. That window opened on Tuesday. But don’t blink; demand for the visas is so high that the annual allotment likely will run out in coming days. “Each additional H-1B worker results in four new jobs, which means the H-1B ceiling costs our economy over 100,000 jobs a year,” Lynden Melmed, the former chief counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, wrote in the Hill.

As business leaders win minds by underscoring immigration reform as a ticket to job creation and economic growth, faith leaders are winning minds by noting that reform is imperative for family unity, human dignity and respect for the rule of law. On Tuesday, Catholic bishops gathered for a Mass at the Arizona-Mexico border that highlighted the need for reform.

Meanwhile, a virtual #Pray4Reform Day of Prayer for Immigrant Families on Thursday resulted in more than 500 tweets from participants in 30 states. And national evangelical leaders weighed in via an op-ed in the Sunday Wall Street Journal.Reform is “the smart thing to do for our future and the moral thing to do for the soul of our nation,” wrote Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

As Congress looks ahead to an active April recess, members will find renewed enthusiasm and urgency for a vote on immigration reform this year. It will come thanks in no small part to conservative leaders’ confident testimony that is winning hearts and minds.  

Join the conversation on Twitter using #Ready4Reform.