Experts Discuss Immigration Reform At ASU Panel

Senator Jon Kyl, Glenn Hamer of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, and Lisa MagaƱa of Arizona State University's Political Science department participate in Friday's forum.
By Jude Joffe-Block
April 19, 2013

PHOENIX -- Colleges and universities across the country held forums on immigration reform Friday, including at Arizona State University. Experts there discussed some of the points of tension in the proposal crafted by a bipartisan group of eight Senators.

The forum was held at the local PBS television studio on the downtown ASU campus. It was moderated by former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who worked on previously unsuccessful comprehensive immigration reform efforts before he left the Senate.

Glenn Hamer of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce said the business community is disappointed that the Gang of Eight's bill does not include more visas for low-skilled workers.

Originally, the national Chamber of Commerce had advocated for 400,000 annual "W visas" for low-skilled workers. Instead, the bill caps those visas at 20,000 the first year and ramps up the quota yearly to 75,000 the fourth year, with a possibility for future growth.

Tamar Jacoby of the Washington-based Immigration Works USA represents employer interest. She said while those interests would like to push for a greater number of those W visas, it comes with the risk of derailing the entire comprehensive legislation.

Jacoby compared the current compromise reached by the group of eight Senators as a circle.

"If you pull it too far away from the center of the circle, it can't pass," Jacoby said. "If labor is not happy, they are not going to support it, and a lot of Democrats wont support it. There is this pressure to stay in the center of the circle, no matter what you think the right answer is."

Jacoby said the business community is concerned that if there aren't enough visas for workers to come to the country legally, it will not end the flow of illegal immigration.