Last night, the Senate voted 67-27 for cloture on a border security compromise amendment to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act bill. The vote signified potential for significant Republican support for the Senate comprehensive immigration bill, and represents increased momentum for its passage. Last week, CCIA joined more than 100 technology executives in a letter calling for Senate support of the bill. We are encouraged to see the Senate making progress in addressing the thorny and polarizing issue of immigration in the way it has traditionally done: broadening support by crafting a compromise that is workable for as many senators as possible.
In the current polarized political environment, much has been made of how hyper-partisanship is “the new normal” in Washington DC and that compromise is no longer possible, or even desirable. This “never the twain shall meet” approach may allow for ideological purity but does not allow for the thing lawmakers are sent here to do: addressing critical national issues that cannot wait. Immigration is such an issue. The status quo in skilled immigration is a chronic shortage of visas preventing technology companies from hiring and keeping the workers needed to maintain the U.S. edge in innovation. The global competition for talent is well under way and will not wait.
While we have no position on the issue of border security itself, we do support passage of an immigration reform bill that includes skilled immigration provisions addressing our concerns. And the way this border security compromise came about was a logical attempt by lawmakers attempting to find a way to Yes, rather than drowning each other out with Nos. Faced with a bill they couldn’t support, Sen. Corker and Sen. Hoeven crafted an amendment addressing their concerns, the bill supporters worked with them and reached a compromise that broadened the bill’s support. While last night’s vote was only for cloture on the amendment and not yet for its passage, one hopes that this example of legislative functionality is not an isolated one but part of a pattern that leads to passage of the immigration reform bill itself.