Texas business leaders are hoping President Obama lays out a clear path to immigration reform at tonight’s State of the Union speech, and that Congress signs on, 1200 WOAI’s Michael Board reports.


Bill Hammond, President of the Texas Association of Business and a major advocate for immigration reform, told 1200 WOAI news that the President needs to make sure the Democrats come up with a plan that Republicans can accept.


“To make sure that they don’t block what is really obvious, and that will be a piecemeal approach,” Hammond said.


Many supporters of immigration reform blame not Republicans but Democrats, who they say are hoping that immigration reform fails so they can use it against Republicans in the fight for the Latino vote in 2014 and 2016. Key Republicans Congressman Paul Ryan told a business forum in San Antonio last week that immigration reform will be done in pieces, and he encouraged Democrats in the Senate to agree to that process.

“Many Democrats fear that if they do it in a piecemeal approach, they will get the items that there is more universal agreement on, and not those other items,” Hammond said.


Republican leaders agree with Democrats on the need for legalization of people in the country illegally, and the need for a ‘guest worker’ program. But Democrats want a ‘path to citizenship’ for illegal immigrants, something Republicans say they won’t accept.


Tea Party conservatives, meanwhile, oppose all efforts at immigration reform, calling it ‘amnesty.’


“There seems to be broad agreement by both parties that limiting the number of immigrants with masters and PhD’s who want to enter the country is not good for the economy,” Hammond said.


Business groups, especially high tech companies, say without greater access to workers from around the world, they will not be able to compete. But opponents of immigration reform say it will push down wags for semi skilled and low skilled Americans, and say business only supports immigration reform because it wants to get its hands on a pool of low wage workers.