The Wall Street Journal is not always a fan or supporter of small businesses, the Latino community or immigration. But recently, it, in effect, joined forces with a strong proponent of effective immigration reform, Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Chicago. They both denounced President Obama’s immigration reform efforts as insincere and duplicitous.
At our recent White House meeting with Obama’s chief policy adviser, David Axelrod, we learned that the president is fully committed to effective immigration reform. At this point, we believe it is important that the Latino business community and all other advocates for effective immigration reform assume that the president has an unwavering commitment to effective immigration reform similar to that proposed by Gutierrez and strongly supported by the Hispanic Congressional Caucus.
Immigration reform is far more important in Los Angeles County than anywhere else in the country. Our economy and, in particular, small businesses are heavily dependent on a large and reliable immigrant labor force that has made us one of the strongest economies in the world.
This year the president has successfully completed two major legislative reform bills, health care and banking. The third leg of his reform program, immigration, can still be put in place this year.
In order to do this, we should not be diverted by Arizona’s recent anti-immigrant bill that threatens basic American freedoms and constitutional rights. The president should instead capitalize on Arizona’s trampling of basic American rights by proposing a bold, Reagan-like immigration reform program. It is essential that this be done immediately to cut off growing national support for Arizona’s anti-immigrant position, including the possibility that a dozen other states may soon enact similar anti-immigration legislation.
In California, for example, we have observed that the Latino vote, a key to re-election of many congressional Democrats throughout the nation, is wavering because Latinos believe health care reform does not benefit them and the bank regulatory reforms appear to be more about derivatives than Main Street concerns, such as preventing foreclosures.
Given the volatility of this growing voting population, the president should quickly meet with Gutierrez, the leaders of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus and Senate Republicans such as Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn. They share a perspective on immigration that John McCain once held, but is now unable to express due to vigorous opposition by a far-right, anti-immigrant candidate in the upcoming Arizona primaries to be decided before Labor Day. However, should McCain defeat his anti-immigrant primary opponent, as we hope, he, Graham and Cornyn could make the difference, particularly since Cornyn is the lead Republican on the Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee on Immigration.
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