U.S. lawmakers seek help from business to pass immigration reform

Washington, Apr 26 (EFE).- South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, a member of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" senators behind an immigration reform bill, said Friday that the United States will suffer economically if reform fails to happen.

At a conference on immigration reform organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Graham stressed the practical nature of the reform and the urgent need to approve it as soon as possible.

Graham said the country's aging population means that a greater tax contribution to the U.S. Treasury is needed to keep such programs as Medicare and Social Security afloat, something the reform will help to achieve.

Another Gang of Eight member, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that a system in which 11 million people live in the shadows is not sustainable, a reference to the number of undocumented immigrants estimated to be living in the United States.

The Arizonan also asked the chamber for help in getting the bill passed.

"We need all of you, we need all of the people you represent to be actively engaged in the community," McCain said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue defended immigration reform as a matter of "urgent necessity."

Donohue participated in negotiations with AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka to settle the problem of temporary visas for foreign workers.

The Gang of Eight proposal includes, among other elements, a period of 10 years for the legalization of the undocumented, an extra $3 billion for border security, and fines for companies that knowingly hire unauthorized workers.