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Say what? Tea Partyites and liberals in agreement?

Felicia Persaud | 9/28/2011, 4:30 p.m.
Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now!

In an unlikely twist of events, conservatives and Tea Party groups have found themselves becoming bedfellows with liberals on an aspect of immigration reform. Yes, you read that right!

Just like the Republican presidential candidates have been fighting amongst themselves on the issue, Tea Partyites and conservatives have begun attacking Republicans on a bill that would impose mandatory background checks to ensure that new hires are eligible to work in the United States-a move that puts them squarely in agreement with liberals and progressives.

The strange collaboration came on Wednesday, Sept. 21 as House Republicans approved the Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 2558 or the E-Verify bill, proposed by Rep. Lamar Smith in the Judiciary Committee. The bill will require businesses to check new employees' work statuses against a government database.

E-Verify is currently a voluntary government-run program that uses Social Security numbers to check if job applicants are authorized to work in the United States. The bill being pushed by GOPers would instead mandate its use.

Last week, a coalition of 27 regional and national groups that champion smaller government, privacy protection and small business interests wrote a letter to members of Congress urging them to vote against the bill. The coalition included Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation.

Phillips, who is strongly opposed to illegal immigration, insists that the E-Verify bill should not pass, since "it's not private enterprise's job to enforce immigration."

Can someone say hypocrisy? The reality is that the base of businesses-including farmers-who depend on illegal immigrant labor but are contributors to these movements and the conservative lawmakers are starting to make serious noise about this measure.

And so, as usual, to placate their base, Tea Partyites are now willing to hold their noses and switch their tune on immigration reform, making what I have said on this page all along a fact: Economics will determine whether immigration reform happens in this country or not.

It is now the businesses who need immigrant labor that hold the cards and have sway on this issue. They are the ones feeling the pinch of the enforcement crackdown; they suffer as there are fewer and fewer migrant workers available to work the farms and do the work Americans will not.

Now they are turning the heat up on their lawmakers-as they should-and the division within their ranks is leading to unlikely bedfellows in Washington, D.C. The time is now to keep up the pressure and ensure immigration reform that allows the many undocumented workers in this country to obtain work permits and travel documents, bringing them out of the shadows they have been living under for far too long.

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.