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Paulson Sees More Republicans Backing Immigration Change

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Congress needs to reach bipartisan compromises -- including on immigration-law revisions and changes to tax and trade policy -- to help spur a more robust economic recovery. Photographer: Louis Lanzano/Bloomberg

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says “a growing number” of his fellow Republicans favor changes to U.S. immigration policy, one of several “structural” steps he supports to improve the economy.

Congress needs to reach bipartisan compromises -- including on immigration-law revisions and changes to tax and trade policy -- to help spur a more robust economic recovery, Paulson said in an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program airing today.

“I think immigration reform would make a huge difference,” Paulson said in a transcript released yesterday by the network. “I think immigration reform is necessary.”

The push for a comprehensive immigration bill, which the Senate passed a year ago, has stalled and prospects are dimming that any sort of measure will be approved by Congress before the November midterm elections. House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, have refused to act on the Senate bill and little progress has been made on alternatives.

Paulson, though, said there is support among Republicans for action on the issue.

“I am a Republican,” he said. “ I think you’re seeing a growing number of Republicans that favor immigration reform.”

Paulson, who headed the Treasury Department under former President George W. Bush, is appearing on the CNN show with Robert Rubin, Treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton.

Much of the business community has been lobbying for changes to immigration policy to ease labor gaps in the U.S., including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which traditionally supports Republican candidates.

Suing Obama

Boehner last week said the House will sue the Obama administration because of the president’s use of executive actions to circumvent Congress, including orders he’s issued for law enforcement to be more selective in the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

The stalemate on Capitol Hill has caused immigrant activists and some Democratic lawmakers to focus on President Barack Obama, pressuring him to go further in halting deportations.

Under the Senate bill, many of the almost 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would be given a path to eventually become citizens. That provision is one that many Republican lawmakers oppose.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said last week that Obama should do more to pressure the Mexican government to help stop a surge of unaccompanied children illegally crossing the U.S. border.

As many as 60,000 unaccompanied and undocumented children may cross from Mexico into the U.S. this year, a 10-fold increase from last year, Goodlatte said at a breakfast in Washington. The “border surge” of unaccompanied children may rise to as many as 150,000 next year, he said.

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