Texas Business Leaders Offer Mixed Reactions to Obama’s New Immigration Push

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Immigration panel at the Bush Institute in Dallas: Daniel Sanchez, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Bill Hammond, Texas Association of Business; Joe Green, FWD.us; state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas; and Scott Braddock.

Some Texas business leaders sounded skeptical of President Obama’s announcement that he’ll start to take executive action on immigration reform this year and not wait for Congress to pass a reform package. But others, including some Republicans, said that the President’s frustration is more than understandable and they sounded hopeful that Obama’s announcement would drive the House GOP leadership to the bargaining table.

In a Rose Garden speech, a stern-sounding Obama said House Speaker John Boehner is unwilling to challenge the Tea Party wing of the GOP and that’s why the Senate’s immigration reform bill has stalled in the lower chamber. There is a working majority of Democrats and some Republicans that would vote to pass a reform package now, Obama said, and “I would sign it into law today.” After the Senate passed its comprehensive reform bill last year, Obama said he held off on pressuring House leadership until now so that Boehner could work with his membership to find a path to passage of the measure.

Obama said opponents of reform are taking advantage of the current humanitarian crisis along the Texas-Mexico border as their most recent excuse for inaction. “Their argument seems to be that because the system’s broken, we shouldn’t make an effort to fix it,” Obama said. “It makes no sense. It’s not on the level. It’s just politics.”

“America cannot wait forever for them to act,” Obama said. Watch his speech here:

As is par for the course in Washington, Boehner fired back that Obama’s the one to blame. “In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written,” Boehner said.

“It’s disappointing that the president has given up on something that’s so critically important to the future of America,” said Bill Hammond, President of the Texas Association of Business. “I would hope that he would work with Democrats and Republicans to craft something that would work,” he said. “It’s so important to the employers of Texas that we get this thing resolved. We will keep working on it.”

When asked whether Obama’s announcement might spur Republican leadership to finally take up the issue in the House, Hammond said “I like the theory but I’m not sure that represents reality.”

“We are as frustrated as the President in lack of progress in Congress on immigration reform,” said Richie Jackson with the Texas Restaurant Association. “We have been urging the House to reach a bipartisan solution that fixes our broken immigration system. We hope the President’s announcement brings the Republican leadership in the House to the table so that everyone can have a voice in the solution.”

Norman Adams, an insurance agent and activist from Houston who has tried for years to convince his fellow Republicans to support a guest worker program, said this was the first time he’s ever found himself in agreement with Obama.

“It is way past time to get something done,” Adams said. “I’ve been trying to tell Republicans for years that if the GOP doesn’t do something on immigration reform then we’re gonna have Obama-gration,” he said.

“He seemed to make it clear that those children on the border will have to go back,” Adams said. “I applaud him for hammering on John Boehner and my Republican friends. I don’t know how anyone could listen to the president speak today and not agree with him,” Adams said.

Copyright June 30, 2014, Harvey Kronberg, www.quorumreport.com, All rights are reserved. Reprinted with permission. 

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