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Time to Regroup on Immigration Reform

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Immigration reform, it seems, will be put off until next year, giving proponents the opportunity to regroup and retool their efforts at passing legislation. One major issue that pundits and lobbyists will spend more time on will be figuring out whom they can persuade among House Republicans, especially on the legalization and amnesty issues.

Despite the stalled legislation, broad support for immigration reform remains among many different groups, many of which are now focused on the House GOP. The AFL-CIO took out ads criticizing the House for not moving forward; a high-powered group of CEOs rallied to show support for some legislation to be passed; and a handful of conservative groups are pushing for the House to put forward its own version of reform.

Democrats and Republicans are keeping an eye on the 2014 elections in which immigration reform is expected to be a major factor, whether passed or not. Republicans, if assigned the blame for failing to pass any form of legislation, could face the wrath of voters.

Meanwhile, two new reports support proponents of legislation. Two economists, in an NBER Working Paper on the local labor market effect of immigrant workers, found that low-skilled Mexican-born immigrant workers in a region significantly soften the blow from a recession or low economic growth. Because they are mobile, immigrant workers move during poor economic times, freeing up opportunities and pushing up the wages of locals.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s report  showed the positive impact on growth, the budget, and housing prices that would occur were immigration reform put into place. The report also notes that, under almost any approach to immigration reform, changing our current system will benefit the economy.

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