Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger kicked off an immigration forum at the University of California Tuesday by introducing himself as the “country’s most well-known immigrant”.
Then he went on to list the reasons he supports immigration reform. At the top of his list: legalizing the one in ten California workers who are here illegally would raise the nation’s GDP by 1%.
“The economic benefit of reform could reduce our deficit over the next 10 years by 2.5 trillion dollars," Schwarzenegger told attendees of the event, entitled Washington Comes to USC: Immigration Reform Forum. "That’s what I call action—what are we waiting for?”
The Senate bill is expected to face a vote next week in the Senate Judiciary Committee -- though it may run into more delays. Lawmakers won't take it up for discussion until mid-June at the earliest, according to Sen. John McCain, who’s been spending much of his time in Washington, D.C. trying to convince fellow Republicans that immigration reform is closely tied to party's future success.
“We will not be able to compete for the Hispanic voter until this is done," said McCain, one of the Gang of Eight behind the proposal. "This will not gain one single Hispanic vote, by passing this bill. But what it will do, is put us on a playing field where we can compete. And I happen to believe that Republicans—pro small business, lower taxes, less regulation, pro military, pro life—I think we can compete.”
Another Gang of Eight member, Sen. Michael Bennett nodded at his side.
The bill seeks to provide a path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, while further beefing up border security.
It's supported by a coalition of business leaders, Evangelicals, and labor unions.