Political heavyweights well-versed in finance joined forces Friday to plea the economic benefits of immigration reform. The National Press Club hosted the panel, which featured Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, as well as former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
“We’ve got to do this, and we’ve got to do this now,” said Bloomberg, calling for House Republicans to act on immigration. GOP response in the House has been slow, having allowed six months to pass since the Democrat-controlled Senate passed controversial immigration legislation. “Without immigration, we don’t have a future."
Speaker John Boehner is expected to present his principles on immigration at a Republican legislative retreat later this month. These guidelines would counter the Senate’s sweeping reform plan. Snyder and Bloomberg expressed confidence in both Boehner’s ability and desire to get the job done.
Snyder, a Republican, was particularly critical of the slowdown in Congress, labeling it “dumb,” and urged lawmakers to “not let politics be the barrier.”
Earlier in the day, Snyder announced plans for bumping up immigration to Michigan. Along with opening an Office for New Americans to facilitate immigrants arriving in the state, the governor called for federal assistance in obtaining 50,000 visas over the next five years to pump immigrants into the troubled city of Detroit. A 2010 report by the city showed that tech firms were being founded by immigrants at a rate six times that of those by the native population.
Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez called immigration an “economic growth strategy,” essential to maintaining America’s workforce, later noting his optimism at the conversation in the House. Gutierrez, a Cuban immigrant and former Kellogg CEO, moderated the discussion.