Prominent New Hampshire Republicans, including several who hail from the right-wing party’s right wing, spoke out today in support of immigration reform legislation introduced yesterday by a bi-partisan group of eight US Senators.
The occasion, a news conference in the Legislative Office Building, was organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy, an organization that “brings together a bipartisan group of mayors from across the country and business leaders from all sectors of the economy and all 50 states to raise awareness of the economic benefits of sensible immigration reform.”
It was no surprise to see Fergus Cullen there. The former GOP State Chairman is a prominent supporter of immigration reform and is also the founder of a pro-reform advocacy group, “Americans by Choice.” He has actively distanced himself from the party’s Bill O”Brien wing.
It was more impressive to see Kevin Smith, one-time lobbyist for the social conservative Cornerstone Institute and a candidate for governor in the last election. “We need to modernize our immigration laws,” he said.
Andrew Hemingway, who ran Newt Gingrich’s presidential primary campaign and more recently waged a campaign to be GOP state chairman, also stood up for immigration reform as a way to assure more workers for high-tech manufacturing.
Also along for the ride were Representatives George Lambert and Pam Tucker, who called the Gang of Eight’s proposal “a great first start” and a way to keep the US population growing.
For those readers who are not intimate with New Hampshire politics, these folks aren’t just conservatives. Smith, Lambert, and Tucker embody the agenda of the party’s far right wing. And they are exactly who is needed in the pro-reform coalition to get Senator Kelly Ayotte on board.
The perspective of the Partnership’s partners is that immigration reform serves the interest of America’s business class. They have a particular interest in the ability of employers to hire high-skilled immigrants. An alliance between them and the grassroots immigrants’ rights movement, with its union and working class immigrant membership, will be awkward. But successful politics usually makes for interesting bedfellows.