Immigration Bill’s Supporters Call on Business Groups to Pressure G.O.P.

Jonathan Weisman and Ashley Parker, The New York Times

July 19, 2013

WASHINGTON — With political momentum behind an immigration overhaul flagging, advocates are counting on business groups to turn up the pressure on skeptical House Republicans who are much less susceptible to that lobby than they have been in the past.

The changed dynamic illustrates the difficulty of guiding immigration legislation through the House as well as the challenge for business interests to reassert their influence before a more ideological brand of Congressional Republican.

“I’ve heard from all sides on the immigration bill, certainly our Kansas Chamber of Commerce,” said Representative Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, a member of the House Republican leadership. “But I will tell you, a majority of Kansans that I visit with are not as eager. And the power lies with the people, at least in Kansas.”

The prickly relationship between House Republicans and business groups large and small will complicate efforts to move legislation to increase immigration of highly skilled workers, expand guest worker programs and establish a path to legalization or citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.

Yet advocates of such a comprehensive approach say the business world may still be their last best shot, and business groups are mobilizing for an immigration offensive expected to kick into high gear by August.

“The business community is solidly behind this — small business, large business, the chamber, the Business Roundtable, you name it, they’re all solidly in,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and an author of the bill approved by the Senate last month. “We need them to weigh in, very frankly, on this issue, because we advertise ourselves as the party of business. Perhaps they can have some effect.”

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