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Monday, August 19, 2013 - 12:28pm

Former Gov's Say Pass Immigration Bill

Leaders of a bi-partisan coalition backing immigration reform say businesses need to press Congress on the issue. Speaking at a forum Monday in Atlanta, two former governors of Mississippi and Pennsylvania said that’s because many U.S. companies can’t wait any longer for an immigration overhaul.

Ed Rendell and Haley Barbour come from different political parties.

But both say Congress needs to pass immigration reform because there aren’t enough American workers to staff key industries.

Barbour, a Mississippi Republican, said his state’s poultry industry depends on Hispanic immigrants. And after Hurricane Katrina devastated Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, they also bolstered the construction industry.

“If it weren’t for the Spanish speakers who came into Mississippi help us rebuild after the storm, I don’t know where we would be but I know we would be a helluva lot further behind than where we are,” he said.

The U.S. Senate has already passed an immigration overhaul bill. The House hasn’t voted on it yet.

Rendell, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said if Georgia’s Congressional delegation supported the overhaul, it could provide the crucial votes needed to pass the legislation.

“It would pass. It’s as simple as that. Because if Georgia took that step, other delegations would follow,” he said in an interview after the event.

A former Republican Governor of Mississippi and a former Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania say

Speaking at a forum [today/yesterday] (Monday) in Atlanta, Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell pressed Congress to pass a bill so key industries have the workers they need.

They said the bill passed by the U.S. Senate is a compromise that should appease both Democrats and Republicans.

And Rendell, a Pennsylvania Democrat, had a message for Conservatives who oppose amnesty for undocumented residents:

“We have amnesty!” he said. “There are 11 million people basically with no fear of being deported who are living here, earning money, in some cases not paying taxes and we’ve got de facto amnesty. So what are we talking about?”

But opponents of the Senate bill say it wrongly gives people who entered the country illegally a pathway to citizenship.