The Chamber of Commerce admitted Thursday that it is struggling to find common ground with President Trump on immigration, and so far hasn't been able to find a "sweet spot" on the controversial issue.
"We don't have a policy paper on immigration. It's a controversial area," Randy Johnson, the Chamber's senior vice president for labor and immigration policy, said at a press briefing Thursday. "We're trying to figure out where our interests align with the Trump administration."
He added later that, "Immigration across the board, with some limitations, is a benefit to this country and that is the position of the Chamber." In contrast, the Trump administration has sought not only to stop illegal immigration but has backed a plan to cut legal immigration in half.
Johnson said the Chamber, the national largest business trade association, was nevertheless "ready to engage with the Trump administration" on the subjects such a merit-based immigration. The chamber would not budge on family-based immigration though, he said.
Johnson said he hoped the president did not end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that allowed children who were brought to the country illegally to remain, though he said the legal principles behind the policy were shaky.
"Let me just say on this point that if immigration wasn't a benefit to this country, you wouldn't have cities across this country such as St. Louis, Philadelphia, Detroit, and others actively reaching out to immigrants. The reason they are doing that is that these individuals, in the view of the people who run those cities, re-activate the economies in those cities. They are not seen as a burden on social welfare services," Johnson said.
He said that Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, was expected to introduce legislation regarding the H1-B visa program for high-tech workers that the Chamber had been working with him on. "It is a program that needs to be revised with greater numbers," he said.
The Chamber will be putting forward a major policy paper in September laying out its updated position on immigration in full, Johnson said.