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Changing federal immigration law: remarkable grassroots consensus

One of our main themes in this blog is the remarkable consensus that exists on the need for federal immigration reform. Business and religious leaders, labor groups and immigrant advocates are joining together, trying to get Congress to pass a reform bill.

The Senate has already passed a wide-ranging reform bill. But it remains highly uncertain whether the House of Representatives will follow suit when Congress returns from its summer recess.

Meanwhile, however, some surprising voices in favor of reform are emerging in Minnesota and across the nation.

One of those voices is a national network known by the alliterative name of Bibles, Badges, and Business. It is a coalition of faith-based, law enforcement and business groups that want Congress to finally find a solution to the nation’s immigration issues.

One of the group’s Minnesota members is Patrick Lunemann, a dairy farmer who is the head of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association. He believes there is a “silent majority” in the country that favors reform.

One reason reform is needed, Lunemann says, is a shortage of labor to work on farms and in other industries. This need for labor is a key driver for the interest that many business groups have in immigration reform.

There is also a moral dimension to the debate, and that is where the faith community comes in. For example, an evangelical network called Transform Minnesota supports immigration reform. Transform Minnesota arrived at this position after many pastors were moved by personal stories of deportation and other injustices suffered by undocumented immigrants.

Congress will of course have a long list of issues to address when it reconvenes next week. But many people clearly believe immigration reform should be at the top of the list.

Source: MPR News, “‘Bibles, Badges and Business’ come together for immigration reform,” Laura Yuen, August 29, 2013

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