Hundreds of conservative leaders from across the nation will meet in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to take their message of immigration reform to Congress, which is now expected to address the issue after having dealt with the partial government shutdown and the debt-ceiling.
The event, "Americans for Reform: Immigration Reform for our Economy, Faith and Security," is aimed at sending the "unified message" of conservative faith, law enforcement and business leaders that Congress needs to take up broad immigration reform and keep it moving forward, the organizers say.
At least 600 leaders from more than 120 congressional districts across the country are expected to gather at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., one of the event's sponsors, on Tuesday morning, according to National Immigration Forum.
These leaders want Congress to reform the system at the earliest. "I respect people's views and concerns about the fact that we have a situation in the United States where we have millions of undocumented immigrants," Boston Globe quoted Justin Sayfie, a Florida Lawyer, as saying. "But we have what we have. This is October 2013. And the country will be better off if we fix it," added Sayfie, who helped Mitt Romney raise more than $100,000 for his presidential campaign last year.
The event's sponsors include the Partnership for a New American Economy, which is a coalition of business leaders and mayors launched by Mayor Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch to influence public opinion and policymakers toward comprehensive immigration reform; and Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform, a national network of faith, law enforcement and business leaders working together to educate and support members of Congress in reforming the immigration system.
FWD.us, an advocacy group founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is also sponsoring the event.
The participants include Al Cardenas, chair of American Conservative Union; Dr. Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of American Action Forum; Gov. Frank Keating, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association and former Governor of Okla.; Sheriff Margaret Mims, Sheriff of Fresno County in Calif.; and Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform; among others.
Last week, President Barack Obama pushed for an immigration bill. "It's good for our economy, it's good for our national security, it's good for our people, and we should do it this year," he said at the White House on Thursday. "Rather than create problems, let's prove to the American people that Washington can actually solve some problems."
While a bipartisan Senate group has approved an immigration bill, it is not agreeable to many members of the Republican-led House because of its proposed pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are already in the nation illegally.
Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, told USA Today that House Republicans prefer to deal with immigration problems in a phased manner. "The speaker agrees that America has a broken immigration system and we need reform that would boost our economy," Buck was quoted as saying. "He's also been clear that the House will not consider any massive, 'Obamacare'-style legislation that no one understands."
Boehner told reporters Wednesday that it was possible to bring up immigration reform for a vote on the House floor this year.