The top immigration official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Thursday that the chances for getting a “good” immigration bill through Congress this year are about 50-50.
Randel Johnson, senior vice president at the chamber, said the forces supporting immigration are better organized this year than at any time in the last decade, and said the conversation is no longer about whether to deport illegal immigrants, but rather how far to go in granting them legal status.
“That’s a huge shift from where it was six years ago,” he said.
The chamber struck a deal with unions earlier this year to back an immigration bill as long as it provides for a steady stream of future foreign workers, and that agreement helped get a bill through the Senate in June on a bipartisan 68-32 vote.
The debate over legalization comes down to how many of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants should be given initial legal status, and whether they should be given a special pathway to citizenship based on their previous illegal status, as most Democrats and President Obama want, or whether they should be restricted to the same avenues that others have now — an approach some in the GOP have floated.