Chamber, like some in GOP, favors immigration reform | Arkansas Blog

Chamber, like some in GOP, favors immigration reform

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RANDY ZOOK: Arkansas needs immigrant "brainpower and energy and enthusiasm."
  • RANDY ZOOK: Arkansas needs immigrant "brainpower and energy and enthusiasm."
I am not sure if the State Chamber of Commerce is trying sending a message to Republican congressmen that they'd better get on board with immigration if they want the party to stay in power in the House or if there's something else going on.

But Randy Zook, CEO of the state chamber, with the Markham Group, representing the Partnership for a New American Economy, held a telephone press conference today to announce that a national poll shows wide support for immigration reform. Zook and the Markham Group also noted an Arkansas poll by Public Policy Polling, supported by the Partnership for a New American Economy, Alliance for Citizenship and Republicans for Immigration Reform, that found a majority of Arkansans supporting immigration reform.

When an organization (the Partnership) that includes Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg among its leaders and is the umbrella for the March for Innovation (Grover Norquist, Condoleeza Rice and Arnold Schwarzenegger are among its leaders) comes out in favor of immigration reform, you've got to wonder about intent. Max reported on the conservative push for immigration reform in October, which includes support by the U.S. Chamber and Republican leaders. 

The national survey, conducted by Republican polling firm Basswood Research, was made in "key Republican districts" and found that 70 percent of the 1,000 polled said "fixing the immigration system is rated as 'very important.' " I've asked the Markham Group for a copy of the actual poll to see its wording. 

A summary of the poll provided by the Markham group says 78 percent of respondents support of the Dream Act, which, if the poll was referring to the Dream Act as proposed by Democrats in Congress, would be great news. See the summary of the national poll (as well as the Arkansas poll)  here.

Zook. in fact, sounded impassioned in his support for immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship. He said such reform would benefit Arkansas agriculture and manufacturing and he believes "Congress can find good reason to move forward on immigration reform" thanks to the poll results.

"People recognize it’s time to do something," Zook said. "We need willing and able people in our workforce." Zook said immigrants "have played and will pay a strategic role in growth and expansion of our economy" thanks to their "brainpower and energy and enthusiasm and ambition." 

Zook said the state chamber supported Arkansas Dream Act legislation introduced by Sen. Joyce Elliott in the last legislative session. The bill did not get out of committee. He said he hoped for a better result in 2015.

Zook said he met with Arkansas's congressional delegation "to get the conversation going." Did they agree? "They listened closely. I wouldn't say we made a sale."

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