How Congress Can Find Common Ground on Immigration Reform

Congressional members on both sides of the political aisle share their thoughts on potential pathways to compromise on immigration reform.


Air Date: April 13, 2021

Moderator: Neil Bradley, Executive VP and Chief Policy Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Kathy Manning, United States Representative, D-NC-06, Maria Elvira Salazar, United States Representative, R-FL-27

In today’s divisive political climate, Congressional leaders must come together to find common ground and move forward on today’s most important issues. One of these hot topics is immigration.

With a looming crisis at the U.S. southern border, immigration should be addressed and reformed. There are efforts to pass pieces of legislation on both sides of the aisle that will hopefully forge ahead and mend the fences of immigration strife. Here’s how the conversation is being bridged across the Republican and Democrat divide.

Congressional Leaders Must Have Tough Conversations on Immigration to Find Common Ground

Democratic Representative Kathy Manning of North Carolina and Republican Representative Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida each have their own opinions regarding how immigration reform should be tackled. However, they agree that having a conversation is the first step to a bipartisan agreement in the future.

“I think the first thing we need to talk about is the border, and that's when we have a big problem ... That's when we have the biggest differences between the Democrats and the Republicans,” explained Representative Salazar. “We have to talk… [and] change the way we encounter the whole immigration world.”

Representative Manning agreed and noted the challenges that come with having conversations across parties.

“We are not having conversations with our colleagues across the aisle … because there has been such terrible polarization between the two parties,” she explained. “Hopefully, we will be able to have conversations with our colleagues across the aisle, [but] right now, things are a little bit tense.”

Both Political Parties Agree the Immigration System Must Be Reformed

Both representatives said they believe the path to citizenship for immigrants and the way immigrants are treated must be addressed and changed. However, while Representative Salazar believes the key lies at the border, Representative Manning stated that not every immigrant comes through the border.

“The problem is that our immigration system is in desperate need of reform,” said Representative Manning. “And to be fair, we need more funding to go to the immigration department so that visas can be processed on a timely basis.”

Representative Salazar stated that since there are growing vacancies in cheap labor, there needs to be a conversation about the border for those who tend to cross it to gain employment at these jobs.

“The market should be the one dictating what it needs and what type of jobs and employable skills they need,” said Representative Salazar. “And if we cannot find them among the American population, we can always import them in that orderly fashion. That's why I'm saying we’ve got to fix the border.”

Congressional Leaders Stress the Importance of Contacting Representatives for Change

Congressional leaders are first and foremost elected to serve the people they represent. Both Representative Manning and Representative Salazar stated that true change would only come through contacting their representatives and senators.

“I think there's good reason to back up the need to change our immigration system with real-world examples,” Representative Manning explained. “But the only way that we're going to do this is if the … members of the business community call their elected officials and explain what their needs are and that you're supportive of the overall comprehensive immigration reform that we really need in this country.”

“Find out [who your representative is],” added Representative Salazar. “Find out their phone number, call them and tell them that you … want an immigration reform law … If it's related to immigration, that's what your local representative and your federal representative needs to know about.”



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