Obama to meet with labor, business leaders on immigration

President Obama will meet separately Tuesday with labor and business leaders on immigration reform, as the White House seeks to enlist the often at-odds interest groups in a common push toward a comprehensive legislative package.

Obama has invited 16 labor and progressive leaders, including the heads of the AFL-CIO and NAACP, to the White House at 11 a.m., and a dozen big business chief executives, including the heads of Coca Cola, Goldman Sachs and Yahoo, at 3:20 p.m.

The president “will continue his dialogue with outside leaders on a number of issues – including immigration reform and how it fits into his broader economic agenda, and his efforts to achieve balanced deficit reduction,” the White House announced.

The lobbying strategy is similar to the script Obama followed in the recent negotiations over the fiscal cliff, when he also met with labor and business groups. The White House believes that increasing pressure on Congress from different interest groups with large networks outside Washington will help Obama in his pursuit of an ambitious second-term agenda, including stricter gun-control laws and immigration reform.

Though business and labor are often on opposing sides of the bargaining table, both sides have expressed support for an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws and have pledged to try to find common ground. The biggest obstacle is likely to involve creation of a “guest worker program,” which would grant temporary visas to foreign workers, especially in agriculture and some high-tech engineering fields in which employers say there is a shortage of American workers.

Labor groups have objected in the past to such a proposal, but business leaders, including the Chamber of Commerce, have called for the White House and Congress to include it in any immigration legislation. A bipartisan Senate working group included a guest worker program in its proposals last week, but Obama did not mention it in his own proposals during a speech in Las Vegas last Tuesday.

In 2007, Obama, then a senator, Obama voted for an amendment to a comprehensive immigration bill that would have phased out a guest worker program after five years. That amendment passed 49-48, and it was blamed by some Republicans for helping sink the overall immigration bill, which died in the Senate because it was not able to get the necessary 60 votes.

The White House announced that the following people will attend the two meetings:

Progressive and labor leaders:

  • Deepak Bhargava, Center for Community Change
  • Marshall Fitz, Center for American Progress
  • Wade Henderson, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Marielena Hincapie, National Immigration Law Center
  • Deepa Iyer, NCAPA/SAALT
  • Ben Jealous, NAACP
  • Cristina Jimenez, United We Dream
  • Eliseo Medina, SEIU
  • Mee Moua, Asian American Justice Center
  • Janet Murguia, National Council of La Raza
  • Ali Noorani, National Immigration Forum
  • Arturo Rodriguez, United Farm Workers
  • Frank Sharry, America’s Voice
  • Rachel Tiven, Immigration Equality
  • Gustavo Torres, Casa de Maryland
  • Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO

Business leaders:

  • Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs Group
  • Greg Brown, chairman and CEO, Motorola Solutions
  • Steve Case, chairman and CEO, Revolution LLC
  • Joe Echevarria, CEO, Deloitte LLP
  • Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm
  • Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO, The Coca Cola Company
  • Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO, Alcoa
  • Monica Lozano, CEO, Impremedia
  • Marissa Mayer, president and CEO, Yahoo!
  • Greg Page, chairman and CEO, Cargill
  • Jeff Smisek, chairman and CEO, United Continental
  • Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International
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