U.S. President Barack Obama. (Photo : Reuters)
As both parties wrangle over immigration reform, proponents are gaining new allies, sometimes from unexpected sources.
The Obama White House is reaching out to the tech industry to support the Senate's bipartisan reform bill, which would offer a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
Like Us on Facebook
Tech companies tend to prefer more lax immigration restrictions, since many immigrants have advanced technical skills useful in Silicon Valley, but often companies cannot win approval from the federal government to sponsor highly-skilled workers.
Obama is offering additional help to get companies the people they need in exchange for support from the industry for legalizing the status of immigrants who may not have had the same educational opportunities. In the past tech leaders have tended to focus solely on their own industry and not the immigration issue as a whole, but the White House is trying to change that, and influential and wealthy tech sector could provide strong support.
Bloomberg reports that evangelical Christians are also gathering support for immigration reform. There are perhaps half a million Latino evangelicals in the country, and perhaps 40 percent of the ones who identify as Southern Baptist are undocumented.
Traditional conservative churches are finding themselves on the progressive side of the immigration issue, as they are forced to confront the difficult situations of many people in their own congregations.
Phone calls to the office of Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio now include a recorded message referencing Biblical admonitions to "welcome the stranger" before connecting to a receptionist.
Evangelicals and socially conservative Christians have a huge public relations network in place, and pro-immigration members of the community are trying to convince legislators that they will have the support of the evangelical community if they support a path to citizenship.
Finally, the immigration reform movement is gaining support from the LGBT community. Many Latinos and undocumented immigrants have been strong supporters of the fight for gay rights and same-sex marriage, and the LGBT community is becoming more aware of and active in immigration issues. Perhaps 5 percent of undocumented immigrants are LGBT, and many originally came to the United States fleeing persecution or physical threats in their home countries.
In addition, the Obama administration wants to allow same-sex partners of American residents to apply for residency, though the Senate bill does not contain that provision.