US Chamber of Commerce unveils website for immigration reform

Touts benefits of redesigning work visa programs.

Bureau Report

WASHINGTON, DC: The US Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new website to help build business and grassroots momentum for a comprehensive immigration overhaul, today.

The site is part of a multi-pronged approach the Chamber is taking to sway Congress. They also plan to buy advertisements to support certain immigration initiatives and are holding events across the country centered on small businesses and local chambers of commerce, reported The Wall Street Journal.

“As the process moves forward and draft legislative proposals are introduced, we will continue to activate the Chamber’s federation and millions-strong grassroots network,” said Blair Latoff Holmes, a Chamber spokeswoman.

A bipartisan group of senators is trying to craft legislation to redesign immigration laws. They hope to unveil the bill in April. But negotiations have been tricky, in part because the Chamber and the AFL-CIO are still struggling to come to an agreement about how to deal with future immigrant workers, said the Journal.

The new website is the latest signal that the Chamber is still optimistic about the odds for a comprehensive bill. A pivotal period for the group’s outreach will be the last week in March and the first week in April, when the Senate is on Easter recess. During those final weeks before the Senate bill is slated to be released, the Chamber will focus on educating businesses and chambers of commerce on immigration issues through events and other outreach across the country.

The Chamber’s website complements that effort by laying out the group’s argument for why it’s time for immigration reform. It touts the benefits of securing U.S. borders, redesigning worker visa programs and embracing E-Verify.

The Chamber has supported enhanced employment verification systems as part of a comprehensive bill, but some businesses are still wary of the added regulatory burden since E-Verify isn’t yet mandatory. On its immigration site, the Chamber argues that the E-Verify technology has improved and uneven implementation has led to a patchwork approach from state and local law enforcement.

“This approach is burdensome for employers doing business in more than one state/locality and for small businesses,” according to the site.

On one of the most contentious immigration points – the citizenship issue – the Chamber defended a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S, said the Journal.

“This population is not going to self-deport, nor is forced deportation realistic,” the site states. “The current system destabilizes the workplace by putting employers in an awkward place – a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ situation.”

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