If you’re counting on comprehensive immigration reform to happen anytime soon, you may want to rethink your position, panelists told audiences at the Dairy Business Association’s annual business conference in Madison, Wis., Tuesday.
“There’s just not much happening right now at the federal level,” says Angelo Amador, executive director of immigration policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Legislative priorities are focused on health care, climate change, financial regulation and jobs. “There is some background talk, but drafting of any comprehensive immigration reform legislation has not even begun,” he adds.
Amador also points out that the legislation may change from comprehensive in nature to something smaller in scope.
There’s a very volatile political climate in Washington these days, says Tamar Jacoby, president and chief executive officer of ImmigrationWorks USA. She cautions that if the immigration issue becomes politicized, “it is the worst thing that can happen” in terms of reform.
Still, she says this is no time to sit on the sidelines and wait for something to happen. Now is the time to get organized, involved and play defense against potential negative outcomes, Jacoby urges. “Small businesses have the most influential voice behind the military,” she notes. “We need to have a two-sided debate so that you have the workers you need to successfully operate your businesses.”
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Assemblyman Pedro Colon argued his case for providing immigrants with state driver licenses. “It’s about doing what is right, about basic human decency,” Colon says of his legislative efforts.