The U.S. Senate passed a bill in June that attempts to fix the United States immigration system, but the U.S. House has failed to take action on it.
With the government re-opened, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he will focus on immigration reform. He made those comments Friday at a state Capitol press conference.
Surrounded by leaders from both the business and labor communities, Blumenthal said he will do everything he can to get House Speaker John Boehner to call the bill for debate.
But without the threat of economic collapse, how convincing will he be?
“The political handwriting is on the wall for Speaker Boehner and Republican leadership in the House of Representatives,” Blumenthal said. “Pass immigration reform, or impede job growth and economic recovery and you will be responsible.”
He said that’s the “undeniable” political dynamic and it’s just a matter of making sure Boehner hears that message from across the country.
Ana Maria Rivera, a legal and policy analyst with Junta for Progressive Action, said she was a little angry about having to be at the press conference Friday because it’s not the first one they’ve held to push for reform.
“I’m also a little bit angry because I think everyone in this room knows what we know — that we have enough votes to pass this thing in the House of Representatives,” Rivera said.
She said every day that the House fails to act, 1,100 people are deported.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama held a press conference in the East Room of the White House to call on the U.S. House to act on immigration reform.
“This is not just an idea whose time has come; this is an idea whose time has been around for years now,” Obama said. “Leaders like all of you have worked together with Republicans and Democrats in this town in good faith for years to try to get this done. And this is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done.”
Peter Gioia, an economist with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said immigrants start businesses.
“Not only small businesses, but about 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant,” Gioia said. “Even giant corporations are ultimately tied to immigration.”
He said Canada has had a much more “aggressive” immigration policy and as a result they didn’t suffer as much in the recent recession as the United States.
Gioia said the fear that these immigrants will take jobs away from Americans is a false argument.
“Part of this is growing the pie,” Gioia said.
A state-by-state analysis released by the White House in August found a set of reforms that — like the Senate bill — provide a pathway to earned citizenship and expands a high-skilled and other temporary worker programs would together boost Connecticut’s economic output by $568 million and create about 6,904 new jobs in 2014. By 2045, the boost to Connecticut’s economic output would be around $3 billion, in 2012 dollars.
The same analysis found that about 16.7 percent of Connecticut’s labor force is foreign-born. It also found that 18.5 percent of Connecticut business owners are immigrants. These businessmen and women generate $2.05 billion in income for Connecticut each year. Also about 68.2 percent of the state’s engineering PhDs are foreign-born.
It’s estimated that there are about 11 million people who are in the country illegally.