In early August, a coalition of farm, business and religious organizations announced a push – “The Reason for Reform” -- to address the nation’s immigration issues.
“In many ways this election has been all about immigration,” John Feinblatt, chair of Partnership for a New American Economy, said during a press call. “No matter who wins in November, it will surely be at the top of 2017’s agenda.
“The Reason for Reform campaign is showcasing immigrant contributions in every state across the country. … We’re doing this because we believe it is local data and local stories that will push the needle on immigration reform.”
At this point, cynicism may not be attractive but it is understandable. After all, similar well-meaning reform movements have lost their fizz in the face of a Congress unable, or unwilling, to find a solution. And considering the increased vitriol – “Build the wall!” -- surrounding immigration during this presidential election why will lawmakers respond differently this time around?
The panel suggested success may come through bypassing an intransigent Congress as much as possible. A bipartisan group of sitting and former governors could produce reform proposals that would provide Congress “cover” for legislation.
Further, unlike former attempts, the current effort is being driven “from the bottom up, not the top down,” said Ben Johnson, Executive Director, American Immigration Lawyers Association. There needs to “be a reassessment of this issue on a local level rather than just at a Congressional level.”
Two big issues come up as he travels the country, said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. The first is “farm labor and immigration reform.” The second is “the burden of regulations put on small businesses, farmers and ranchers.
“It’s important we continue to work the grassroots. … We’re coming to a point where the American people are going to have to make up their mind. Do we want to import food or import labor? I think people want their food grown here.”