Mike Bloomberg Discusses the Economic Case for Immigration Reform

By MikeBloomberg.com - JAN. 24, 2014

The following are Mike Bloomberg's remarks as prepared for delivery at the Immigration Reform: Outlook 2014 event at the National Press Club. Joining Mike Bloomberg was Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) and former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Republicans for Immigration Reform, and the Partnership for a New American Economy.

"Carlos, thank you, and I want to thank the National Press Club for hosting us. It’s great to come down to the relatively balmy Washington, D.C. from New York City. I can no longer be blamed for the weather in New York. The snowstorm we had… people said they wished I was in charge of removing the snow. I don’t remember them saying that three years ago, but that’s neither here nor there. And the other thing that has changed is that I can’t be held responsible for the Knicks… but that’s a very big problem.

The one thing, all kidding aside, that hasn’t changed and won’t: I’m going to keep pressing Washington to act on the issues that matter most when it comes to keeping America competitive, and America safe, and America strong, and few things matter as much as immigration. I have said repeatedly, our current immigration laws are “national suicide” – and I really don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Because I see industry after industry, company after company, school after school improving overseas, and if we don’t do something, we’re going to find ourselves someday on the backside of the curve, and it’s very hard to play catch up in this world. The vast majority of Americans, the good news is, agree that we need hardworking people from around the world to come here. It is crucial for our economic stability, and our ability to create jobs. We all agree that we need stronger borders and better enforcement. But we also agree that turning away foreign-born innovators and entrepreneurs and the best and brightest immigrant students educated here – is about the worst economic policy anybody could possibly have.

On all the issues, the different sides of the immigration debate are closer today than we have seen them in a very long time. Anyone who says that the gap between the sides is too big to close is just trying to exploit relatively small differences for political gain, and that’s not acceptable. This is the future of our country, this is the world we’re going to leave to our children. Leaders on both sides of the isle and on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue know that Americans want to see immigration reform and immigration reform passed now. And they know the price our country will pay if they fail to act.

The good news is that at the state level people like Governor Snyder and our governor in New York understand that they have an obligation to do everything they can to urge Congress – because it is a federal law that needs to be passed – to give us the resources that we need. And certainly at the city level mayors know this. It’s encouraging that Speaker Boehner and House Leadership will set up a set of principles for immigration reform that will be released soon. The principles they’ll lay out won’t satisfy everybody – as someone once said, Democracy is that we try to get to the middle and that everyone should walk away with something, and you never want to walk away with everything, because next time you won’t get anything. But if we can make some compromises here for the good of the country, I think we have a very good a chance, for the very first time in a long time, of changing something that’s really damaging all of us.

Rupert Murdoch, as Carlos said, and I founded the Partnership for a New American Economy. John Feinblatt has been running the organization. It’s a bipartisan coalition of 500 mayors and CEOs from every state and every persuasion trying to cast a light on how broken our immigration system is, and how it’s harming the country. And this is the time to pull everything together. We’ve got to do this, and we’ve got to do it now.

I particularly want to thank the Michigan governor because he really has stood up and tried to do something which I’ve thought we should do for a long time, and he deserves a lot of credit, so, Governor, congratulations. And Carlos, thank you for all of your leadership over the years."