Leaders from the Elkhart and Goshen chambers of commerce will be in Washington, D.C., next week, lobbying along with hundreds of others for immigration reform.
Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce President Kyle Hannon and Goshen Chamber of Commerce President David Daugherty will be in the capital for a gathering of 600 or so religious, law enforcement and business leaders from across the country seeking a reform measure from the U.S. House. They’ll convene Tuesday morning at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters, then fan out to visit individual GOP House members, seeking support for reform moves.
Hannon and Daugherty plan to visit U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, who represents Elkhart County and north-central Indiana, according to Hannon.
“I think there is a growing sentiment among the public and different organizations that it’s time, past time, to do serious immigration reform,” Hannon said Friday, Oct. 25, from Elkhart. The U.S. Senate passed a reform plan in June, but the U.S. House has yet to act, hence the push for action from the lower legislative branch.
The looming gathering comes in the wake of a series of meetings across Indiana in August, including one at the Elkhart chamber, also meant to spur a House reform measure. Those gatherings, like next week’s, were an initiative of the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network, a coalition seeking reform spearheaded by the National Immigration Forum that gets backing from the U.S. Chamber, religious organizations, businesses and other groups.
Hannon and others involved with the coalition seek some sort of pathway to legalization for the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants estimated to be in the United States, one of the thornier parts of the debate. It’s not realistic to round up undocumented immigrants and deport them, Hannon said. Border security, too, should be part of a plan.
However, Hannon hopes lawmakers don’t get too hung up on details. He just wants continued movement, wants to keep the issue — a long-standing topic of debate, but little action — alive.
“This is the closest we’ve gotten, so let’s keep it moving,” Hannon said.
He worries that spending issues and the U.S. debt ceiling — central concerns for the moment among U.S. lawmakers — squeeze out consideration of the immigration topic. “That is a very real concern. That’s why we’re coming,” he said.
Walorski has expressed support for reform, specifically moves to augment border security and the U.S. entry and exit systems. She’s stayed largely mum on the notion of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“She certainly understands the issue,” Hannon said. “She’ll also get a lot of pressure from other folks.”