White House touts economic benefits of immigration reform

The White House early Wednesday released a new report touting the economic benefits of immigration reform, as President Obama looks to ramp up pressure on House Republicans to undertake a comprehensive bill.

ADVERTISEMENT
The report comes amid a renewed push by the White House to focus attention on the bill. Later Wednesday, the president and Vice President Biden plan to meet at the White House with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in what administration officials have billed as a strategy session to figure out how best to pursue immigration reform in the House.

The report, penned by the president’s National Economic Council, Domestic Policy Council, Office of Management and Budget, and the Council of Economic Advisers, looks to build off a Congressional Budget Office projection that estimated enacting the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill would increase gross domestic product by 0.3 percentage points over the next 20 years. According to the analysis, the Senate bill would encourage more job creation and job growth while increasing worker productivity.

The report also argues that immigration reform would decrease budget deficits and help counterbalance the strain the baby boomers will put on entitlement programs like Social Security.

"The president urges the House of Representatives to take action and move this bill or similar legislation forward, and stands willing to work with all parties to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible," the authors of the 34-page document write.

Republican leaders in the House plan a meeting of their own Wednesday afternoon as the GOP looks to navigate a tough political tightrope on the issue. While many members of the party — including rising stars like House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — have argued supporting the package is important for the party as the nation's demographics change, many rank-and-file Republicans have balked at the reform proposals.

The president is looking to intensify pressure on the GOP in hopes of delivering both a comprehensive bill and a much-needed political win. The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Obama also plans a more aggressive, campaign-style approach in the coming months.

White House advisers told the Post that the president will hold events in states with large Latino populations and attempt to rally business and evangelical groups in the Republican base that have backed the reform effort.

“We still have a lot of work to do to get immigration done, but, as planned, we expect to have the ability to focus on core middle-class economic issues in the second half of this year," White House director of communications Jen Palmieri told the paper.

Many of those religious and business groups were represented in Wednesday's report, which included statements of support from organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Business Roundtable. Even News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch — a frequent thorn in the side of the White House — is cited extolling the virtues of immigration reform.

“I believe that all Americans should have a vital interest in fixing our broken immigration system so we can continue to compete in the 21st century global economy. ... [A]merica's future prosperity and security depends on getting our immigration policy right — and doing it quickly," Murdoch is quoted as saying.

The effort will also get a boost from former President George W. Bush, who is expected to deliver a speech Wednesday on how immigration reform is good for the country, according to the Dallas Morning News.

"I think it's very important to fix a broken system, to treat people with respect and have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people," Bush told ABC News over the weekend.

Still, the future of immigration reform in the House remains uncertain.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that he will not allow a floor vote on any immigration bill that does not have the support of a majority of his Republican majority — seemingly ruling out the Senate bill. He also said in a news conference that the House bill would be "grounded" in a guarantee of increased border security.

"People have to have confidence that the border is secure before anything else is really going to work," he said.

Earlier this week, the editors of two influential conservative media outlets — the National Review and The Weekly Standard — penned a joint editorial urging House Republicans to kill the legislation.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told Bloomberg News over the weekend that he believes the Senate bill — which was amended to double the number of border security agents patrolling the crossing with Mexico — still didn't go far enough because new measures wouldn't be put into place until those here illegally have "already been given the legal status."

"The legal status comes immediately, and we think that most people who are not here legally, that's the main thing they want," he said. "They want to have a legal status here, and that's a worthwhile objective, but we think it shouldn't happen until you have the assurance that we're not going to have another wave of illegal immigration occur ahead of time."