11 Million Reasons Why Immigration Reform Should Happen Now

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Two editors of prominent conservative publications are calling for Republicans in the House of Representatives to kill immigration reform, and they laid out their case in an op-ed this morning.

The decision about what to do with the Senate immigration bill should be clear at this point for Republicans, according to William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and Rich Lowry, editor of National Review.

"We are conservatives who have differed in the past on immigration reform, with Kristol favorably disposed toward it and Lowry skeptical. But the Gang of Eight has brought us into full agreement: Their bill, passed out of the Senate, is a comprehensive mistake. House Republicans should kill it without reservation," the pair wrote. "There is no case for the bill, and certainly no urgency to pass it."

They're wrong.

Whatever your views on the nearly 1,200-page immigration reform bill, there's most definitely a case for modernizing the country's immigration laws. And it's clear that for many people, the need is urgent.

Here are some major groups that think a bill should happen now:

1. Undocumented Immigrants

The last time the U.S. had a large-scale legalization program was 1986. That was nearly 30 years ago.

There are now an estimated 11 million immigrants living in this country without legal status. The Senate immigration bill would allow those people to apply for legalization, pending a criminal background check and after paying fines. To renew their legal status, participating immigrants would need to prove they've been working.

See Also: Are House Republicans Blowing Smoke on the Border?

It's obvious why reform would be pressing for those living in the shadows. They're living without rights; working but not able to fully participate in society.

But this doesn't just affect people who are undocumented. It affects families who live in fear that their mothers, father, brothers and sisters might be deported. Just because you have citizenship doesn't mean you're not worried about your cousin who doesn't.

2. Business and Labor

Conservatives against the Senate immigration bill argue that reform would hurt American workers. But labor unions resoundingly support the immigration legislation.

That's a big deal. Unions fractured over reform during the last effort in 2007. The fact that they're fully behind it now shows that they're confident legalizing undocumented immigrants will only help level the playing field for all workers.

The same goes for business. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants reform to happen this year, and they're the most powerful lobbying group in the country. Any pro-business conservative should have a hard time ignoring this endorsement.

3. Farmers and Farmworkers

Immigrant workers play a huge role in bringing food to our tables, and yet we make it very hard for them to get here legally.

The agriculture industry already has a guest worker program that could hypothetically give them an unlimited supply of workers, but growers say it's too much red tape, and they don't use it. Instead, they hire workers off the books.

Everyone can agree that's not an ideal situation. Workers have few rights and growers don't have a reliable source of labor. Whether you're talking about cherries or asparagus, there's a real worry that crops could be left unpicked without a viable way to bring immigrant workers to the U.S.

4. Faith Leaders

There are a vast array of economic interests lined up behind reform (I didn't even mention the tech industry, which has been aggressively lobbying). But one of the most important groups backing an immigration overhaul is doing it for moral reasons.

The country's largest evangelical groups are throwing their collective weight behind reform, recognizing that the Bible calls for just treatment of immigrants, and that current immigration law doesn't provide that.

One coalition, the Evangelical Immigration Table, represents more than 100,000 churches nationwide, and has been asking congregants to discuss and pray for immigration reform.

5. Regular People

And then there are the people who might not have a distinct stake in the game, but understand how the immigration system works (or doesn't).

About half of Republicans says passing an immigration reform bill is extremely important or very important, according a June poll by the Pew Research Center. The numbers are slightly higher for Democrats, at 53 percent.

There are concerns with changing our immigration laws -- and as Kristol and Lowry point out, border security is a big one -- but that doesn't mean people don't recognize the need to do it.

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Alt

Immigration Reform is a heated political issue that we view from all angles in the hope of getting politicians to address those impacted by the decisions they make.

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