Last Thursday, as the Senate headed into its spring break, senators were celebrating the passage of a reasonable bipartisan bill on immigration. It would increase border security. It would require illegal immigrants to pay fines and learn English to start on a path to citizenship. It would create a guest worker program. But by Friday, support for the bill had disintegrated due to political squabbles (Republicans wanted some last-minute changes, and Democrats thought they were sticking in ridiculous amendments).
Some senators are saying the bill might be rekindled when they return from their two-week vacation. Let's hope the huge rallies on Sunday and Monday help it along. Especially in contrast to the House immigration bill passed in December--it would, among other provisions, build a 700-foot fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, and make giving water to illegal immigrants a crime--the Senate proposal seems like sound middle ground.
In a session at the Inc. 500 conference two weeks ago, entrepreneurs were asked what their biggest policy concerns were. Many said it was immigration. And surprisingly from this presumably conservative crowd, most said they supported lifting immigration restrictions, particularly for highly skilled workers (see this article for more on that). Relaxing rules on immigration, they argued, is good for business.