Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi and the former head of the Republican National Committee, says immigration reform might be one of five areas Congress tries to pass legislation on this year.
Energy, trade, tax reform and the federal budget all will likely take precedence. But Barbour says there is a real need for immigration reform and a real need for guest workers above and beyond high-tech, high skilled workers.
“Agriculture needs guest workers,” he told those attending the opening session of the 2015 Dairy Forum here in Boca Rotan Sunday evening. He acknowledges some in the Republican Party want all illegal residents to return to their home countries and then re-apply for legal entry.
“I can’t think of anything stupider than making four to five million people leave and then try to figure out how to replace them,” Barbour said.
One of the driving political forces, Barbour acknowledges, is that Republicans must show they can govern in advance of the 2016 presidential elections. Passing legislation on energy, trade, tax reform, the federal budget and even immigration and getting it to the President Obama’s desk will be that proof.
“The main thing is to show we can govern,” he says. Whether the President actually signs it is another matter.