Donohue said his conversations with lawmakers from both parties on Capitol Hill make him optimistic for a solution in 2013. He also noted that the Chamber is working with groups ranging from faith organizations to law enforcement to labor unions including the nation’s largest – and staunchly progressive – labor group, the AFL-CIO, to forge a broad political coalition to support an immigration reform effort.
“We will find a balance in these issues,” Donohue said, before calling AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, a man with whom Donohue is working personally, “about the best guy in town at building coalitions.”
On Capitol Hill, Donohue’s efforts will support legislative work by bipartisan groups in both the House and Senate currently discussing immigration reform proposals. President Obama, too, has vowed to make immigration reform a top legislative priority in 2013.
Bringing a wide range of interest groups on board an immigration reform push is key, Donohue acknowledged, because immigration reform’s many politically explosive questions – What to do with undocumented immigrants? How to secure America’s borders? What about American unemployment? – could be disastrous for lawmakers.
“These are very passionate issues,” Donohue said. “People worry about what the folks back home think, and you can demagogue this issue very easily.”