By Peter Jones
John Brackney, president of the South Metro Denver Chamber, is part of an activist group that is collectively touting the “standards for immigration reform” unveiled last week by U.S. House Republicans.
Brackney, a Republican, was one of several supporters whose endorsement of the GOP’s one-page memo was touted Jan. 31 by Bibles, Badges and Business, a coalition of business, law enforcement and religious leaders who have consistently pushed for comprehensive immigration reform.
The South Metro Denver Chamber’s board of directors had already formally endorsed a reform bill in the Democratic-controlled Senate, and according to Brackney the momentum for such reform is more than obvious.
“The tipping point has way passed. Everyone is frustrated by the current immigration system,” the chamber CEO said. “Overwhelmingly, in our business community we hear that this has to get solved.”
House Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team introduced its agreement in principle last week at an annual policy retreat, calling the plan “as far as we are willing to go” on immigration reform. The move was a change for House Republicans who last year ignored a Senate-passed bipartisan bill.
Although organizations ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the left-leaning America’s Voice have expressed support for the Republican game plan, some are concerned by the Boehner team’s call for “specific enforcement triggers” as a prerequisite to any pathway to citizenship.
What’s more, it remains unclear whether all illegal immigrants would be eligible. The GOP standards also dismiss the notion of a “special” pathway to citizenship. The document further makes clear that House Republicans would not be willing to negotiate with Senate Democrats on their bill.
For Brackney’s part, the chamber leader says he is optimistic that the political powers will find their way to compromise one way or another.
“If the House wants to take it up piecemeal and ensure that border is locked down before these other provisions take place, that’s fine,” he said. “It depends on whether you want to look at the glass as 90 percent full.”
Brackney, a former elected official who once served as an Arapahoe County commissioner, thinks Republican leaders will have to take immigration reform seriously if the party wants to remain relevant in the 2014 and 2016 elections.
“Even in Republican districts, we have collectively decided it’s a broken system and should be fixed,” he said. “The Republicans need to push something comprehensive or they will continue to alienate a huge segment of the population – not just immigrants, but the business community.”
In addition to Brackney, some of the other Bibles, Badges and Business public supporters include David Warren, executive director of Open Door Ministries, and Neil Alvarado, director of the Diversity National Job Fair.
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