WASHINGTON: The recent push in Congress to reform immigration laws made a big splash with a May 17 Senate press conference that drew White House support, but the involvement of a wide variety of advocacy groups in immigration reform may force compromises some of the groups find unpalatable.
Most prominent in support of S.1348, also known as the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, has been President Bush, who has been touting its benefits in speeches around the country.
Among the other interested parties: labor groups that fear immigration threatens "American jobs"; the ACLU, which worries discrimination could result from changes to benefits processing; anti-amnesty groups such as the Federation for Immigration Reform; and vendors looking to sell everything from sensors that guard borders to biometric devices for identify verification.
"There aren't many people who aren't involved in one way or another," said Monument Policy Group partner and founder C. Stewart Verdery Jr., whose clients include the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition. "They've tried to split [the legislation] down the middle, where everybody gets something and everybody gives up something."
Fratelli Group principal Eric Thomas says his firm's work on behalf of the high-tech business coalition Compete America -- which favors more H-1B visas for high-skilled workers -- has included direct lobbying, creation of a Web site, print advertising, and editorial outreach.
Yet, at the moment, the legislation does not make the group happy.
"We don't think the numbers are adequate, and we've been pretty vocal about that, in public and private communications," Thomas said.
What legislation the House might offer remains in question, and while Verdery said the Senate legislation should pass, nothing's for certain: "The question is, ‘Will it be so amended that people who were at the press conference feel like they have to withdraw support? That hasn't happened yet, but it's possible it might.'"