Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday said the United States is committing “national suicide” by failing to reform immigration laws. He said immigration is “crucial for our economic stability” and said Congress must act to allow more immigrants into the U.S. “We’ve got to do this and we’ve got to do it now.”
Bloomberg made his remarks at a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. sponsored by several pro-immigration reform, where he was joined on stage by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.
“We have a dumb system and we should just stand up and acknowledge that, and put something better in place,” said Snyder, who has called on the federal government to approve 50,000 visas over the next five years for highly-skilled immigrants to come to the struggling city of Detroit.
Gutierrez, a Cuban immigrant himself, dismissed arguments from anti-immigration groups, saying that rather than taking American jobs, new immigrants breathe life into the economy, actually creating new jobs.
Immigration is an “economic growth strategy,” Gutierrez said. “Without immigration, our work force down the road doesn’t grow…and our economy doesn’t grow.”
The Senate has passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the House of Representatives, with a contingent of far-right Republicans who oppose anything that smacks of “amnesty” for illegal immigrants, has not. Republicans have promised to present a set of “principles” for immigration reform by the end of the month, but leaders say that a comprehensive deal won’t make it through the chamber. Instead, Republicans are likely to take a piecemeal approach, offering incremental changes to the law.
Bloomberg blasted the Republicans standing in the way of comprehensive reform, saying, that opposition to immigration in general was not just a bad economic policy, but terrible politics.
“If you are against the fastest growing voting blocs in this country, you and your party don’t have a future,” he said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the sponsors of the event, has taken considerable heat from the far right for pushing immigration reform. But Randel K. Johnson, the group’s senior vice president of labor, immigration, and employee benefits said that he expects to see movement on the issue soon.
Calling it a “top priority for the Chamber,” Johnson said he is optimistic that there will be movement on the issue within the next few months. “We’re going to get it done this year,” he said.
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