With House action at a standstill on immigration reform, more than 100 Republican donors and fund-raisers urged House Republicans to take immediate action to legalize undocumented immigrants on Tuesday. In a move to sway House Republicans when immigration reform stakeholders have been unable to do so, the open letter calls upon members to fix the perception of a Republican party that “would rather see nothing done than pass needed reform.” Some House Republicans want to take a piecemeal approach towards immigration, while others are hoping that the momentum will die during the August recess.
Republicans signers told lawmakers throughout the letter that an overhaul for the immigration system would secure the borders, make it impossible to hire undocumented workers illegally, and give legal status for immigrants who pay a penalty and back taxes. Such requirements are already part of the approved Senate comprehensive bill.
Notably, the Republican signers support a legalization pathway, but did not explicitly support citizenship. Legalization is a point of contention among Republicans, some of whom are only open to granting citizenship to undocumented youths who were brought to the country by their parents.
The letter warned that “doing nothing is de facto amnesty.” While eleven million undocumented immigrants would argue that their current situation is hardly “amnesty,” the conclusion of doing nothing could be a real possibility. House Speaker John Boehner pointed to such a conclusion when he vowed to pass an immigration bill only with a majority of Republicans supporting it.
The letter was written by former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and signed by several signatories including former Vice President Dan Quayle, former President George Bush’s aide Karl Rove, and Mitt Romney’s campaign finance director Spencer Zwick. Romney once called for self-deportation, a statement that later hurt him at the polls.
Over 430 prominent businesses like Facebook, eBay, Adobe, and the Intel Corporation also circulated their own letter urging immigration reform on Tuesday. Their letter emphasizes the economic growth of allowing legalized immigrants to “complement” the U.S. workforce by “generating greater productivity and economic activity that will lead to new innovations, products, businesses, and jobs” in the U.S. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is expected to publicly speak about immigration reform next month. During the Senate bill, Zuckerberg’s political group FWD.us spent over $5 million on a pro-immigration reform campaign.
Earlier in July, former Republican President Bush voiced his support for immigration reform. But given that immigration reform collapsed under his administration, it remains to be seen whether House Republicans would be encouraged by the support of his former administrative staff.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association (FLEOA), comprised of over 26,000 federal law enforcement officials from 65 agencies, threw its support for a comprehensive immigration reform bill on Tuesday. The letter addressed to Congress states, “While FLEOA understands the theory of the piece‐meal approach put forth by the House leadership, FLEOA questions if this will ever lead to any meaningful immigration reform legislation in the foreseeable future.” The letter further states that it hopes for the House to take up the Senate immigration bill.