WASHINGTON (CNS) – For former Arizona Senator Bob Worsley, taming the country’s immigration problems is about one thing: “the economy, the economy, the economy.”

“We have people who want to work, standing at the border. We need them to come and help us. Restaurants open fewer days, open fewer tables, hotels no longer serve rooms as before. I mean, we have an urgent need, ”said Worsley, a Republican businessman, one of three panelists who spoke on September 28 to close a two-day online conference on the law and the immigration policy.

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Georgetown University Law School, and the New York-based Migration Policy Institute sponsor the annual event that brings together experts to discuss how immigration law and policy can respond to the realities facing the country is facing.

Although the public and businesses are experiencing a shortage of workers, services, and supplies that could be alleviated with the manpower that immigrants can provide, the lack of bipartisanship is proving to be a barrier to any meaningful movement on. the immigration front, the panelists said.

“How can immigration reform happen, if at all, in this world of polarized politics and what will it take to get there?” ”Asked moderator Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute.

As Republicans focus on the 2022 midterm election, immigration faces an uphill battle, panelists said.

“I don’t think the (Republican) party will let (the Democrats) get this victory. You can say, ‘Let’s have a great debate and then talk about it, from these two sides’… but I think we’re losing our breath, ”Worsley said.

“All of our efforts are focused on the process of reconciliation,” said panelist Esther Olavarria, representative of the White House and deputy director of the Home Immigration Policy Council, referring to the Democrats’ plan to include reform of the immigration in the process of the budget reconciliation bill.

Senatorial MP Elizabeth MacDonough said on September 19 that the Democrats’ plan was “not appropriate” to be included in the budget reconciliation bill process, overturning their plan.

The proposal would have granted legal status to 8 million farm and essential laborers, young adults illegally brought to the United States as minors, and beneficiaries of a temporary migrant program.

The parliamentarian’s decision was a disappointment, including for Republican Worsley and other members of the business community. He said he sits on the board of directors of the American Business Immigration Coalition, whose members express their frustrations at the lack of political progress on immigration issues that could offer them respite.

Democrats vowed to present MacDonough with another proposal for inclusion in the budget bill, but she defeated it on September 29.

They had proposed changing the registration date in the current immigration law that allows certain non-citizens long-term residents of the United States to register for Lawful Permanent Resident Status, or LPR.

Currently, non-citizens who entered the United States before January 1, 1972 can enroll in the LPR. Democrats wanted to change that date to 2010.

“I feel the pain that a lot of companies and a lot of companies feel. We really have… a unique time when low-skilled workers and development workers are in dire shortage, ”said Worsley.

“I represent ABIC… and we have 1,200 CEOs in our group,” he continued, “and they’re farmers, they’re nurserymen, they’re construction people, they’re hospitality and hospitality. accommodation is restaurants, health care, transport. … Everyone is shouting and yelling that “you don’t understand, folks, the acute nature of our labor shortage”.

He said an Idaho farm, Owyhee Produce, was forced to give up its entire asparagus crop this year.

“They didn’t have anyone to pick it, so they gave 6,000 volunteers the opportunity to come and pick the asparagus for their own use because they didn’t have any workers and they said that wiped out their profits for the whole time. ‘business this year,’ says Worsley. “They are just outside of themselves.

He fears the problem will worsen with politicians not moving on legalizing some migrants or reforms that could help their businesses, even with temporary work.

“It is very frustrating for our board of directors (at ABIC) that our friends, the Republican senators, are not at the table, but we are also realistic and understand that the Republican Party wants to win the mid-terms 2022 above all, ”he said. “And right now… the Republican Party is using immigration as a club and they will use it to get their base out in 2022.”

Panelist Pia Orrenius, vice president and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said some of the pain felt by the business sector and by extension the public shows that “we depend on the immigration for the growth of the workforce in this country. “

But it can also be a warning of what’s to come with demographic shifts on the horizon, such as the retirement of baby boomers and a falling birth rate in the United States, and how that will affect economic growth. It also presents an opportunity for immigration advocates to form alliances with the business community in the fight for immigration issues on the political horizon, she said.

Panelist Charles Kamasaki, senior cabinet adviser for UnidosUS, said he saw an opportunity to form coalitions, but also said that an unforeseen turn of circumstances “something like maybe a huge economic dislocation caused in part by constant labor shortages “could turn the situation around.

But the biggest challenge, he said, is tackling opposition to immigration from those who dislike it because of the racial and ethnic demographic changes it brings to the country.

“There are no easy answers, hearts and minds change on these questions,” he said.

But Republican Worsley said those who oppose immigration because of demographic shifts, including some in his party, need to get used to the change that is well underway in the United States. Rather, they should focus on what the country needs to develop economically.

“We’re not going to keep white majorities in America. It is a pipe dream. This will not happen, so let’s adopt and develop a real immigration reform that will allow the number of people to enter our country who are required by the labor market, ”he said.

But he said he recognized there were other forces at play.

“We have to remember that Steve Bannon said very clearly, ‘We are leaving our base creating fear and chaos’ and that gets the Republican base to vote. So we have to understand that this is working against us, ”said Worsley, speaking about what immigration advocates are up against.

Bannon is a media executive and political strategist. He served as the Trump administration’s chief strategist for several months in 2016.

Worsley said it was possible to involve pragmatic Republican businessmen who would examine the job market, baby boomer retirement, declining birth rates and see the need to push immigration issues forward. to help the economy.

“Many of the Republican Party see a dead end in this anti-immigrant movement,” he said. “It’s just not that it won’t get us where we need to be.”

Kamasaki said coalitions can be formed, but both sides must be open to listening to each other.

“I think we also have to try to talk a little more to our opponents,” he said. “We are at a stage these days where we see our political opponents as enemies. … I don’t think we have enough conversations with other people. I think we talk to them a lot.