A major business group said Monday that U.S. manufacturers are hoping an immigration bill will let them give hundreds of thousands of jobs to foreign workers.
Jay Timmons, the president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said he believes an immigration bill will pass near the end of this year. He said creating some pathway to citizenship for non-legal residents is "absolutely essential" for manufacturers to help bring skilled workers to the United States.
Timmons' comments put the National Association of Manufacturers at odds with many Republicans in the House and Senate who are worried that a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants would only reward their illegal residency, and make it harder for U.S. citizens to find jobs.
But the organization seems to hold a position that's consistent with that of the Obama administration. Just last week, the administration announced it would grant work authorization to 100,000 spouses of skilled non-U.S. workers, which Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said would only take jobs away from the millions of U.S. workers who need a job.
Timmons spoke on the same panel with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue, who said he is "optimistic" that an immigration bill could be done this year. He suggested that the House should take up the Senate-passed bill.
"I do believe that we're absolutely crazy if we don't take advantage of having passed an immigration bill out of the Senate… and do something rational in the House, and put it together and let's get the three or four things we really need there," he said.
Donohue said the Chamber would be pressuring members to pass a bill later this year, and warned that Republicans would stumble in the 2016 presidential election in 2016 if they don't pass something.
"If Republicans don't do it they shouldn't bother to run candidate in 2016," he said.