Leaders from three of the biggest interests in South Carolina have renewed their calls for a reform of the immigration system in the United States following indications from Republican leaders in the House of Representatives that they are finally willing to debate the issue.
The divisions between the House and the Senate and within the Republican Party itself over the issue make the chances of immigration reform actually being achieved this year still seem remote, but political consultant Shell Suber, who works with business interests to support immigration reform, is looking on the bright side. “We’re optimistic,” he claims. “We hope this leads to something.”
A set of principles to follow on the issue was released last week by House Speaker John Boehner, which includes border security, employment verification, dealing with criminal immigrants, giving opportunities to immigrants who arrived in the United States when they were children, a visa tracking system and a priority on work visas. However, the House of Representatives has made it clear that they are not interested in giving their approval to the comprehensive immigration bill that was passed by the Senate last year, meaning that any reform would effectively have to start from scratch.
Nonetheless officials from the home builders, tourism and agricultural industries are putting the pressure on Congress to finally act, claiming that farmers depend on immigrant workers, that a labor shortage is damaging the housing industry’s ability to bounce back from the recession and that the tourism industry in the state is growing and thus requires extra workers in that field.