Gene Sperling, the director of President Obama's National Economic Council, pointed to a Congressional Budget Office report that said the immigration bill would increase GDP by $700 billion over a 10-year period while also cutting the deficit by $158 billion over that same period.
"Immigration reform is just the right thing to do, but it's also very clear from a variety of economic sources that it's the smart thing to do as well," Sperling said on a conference call Thursday. "There is such a strong economic logic for moving forward that the cost of inaction is very high."
It's estimated that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Congress has not made major changes to immigration laws since 1986.
The bill passed the Senate 68-32, garnering the support of all 54 Democrats as well as 14 Republicans, but its prospects are uncertain in the House. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has pledged not to bring it to a vote unless it has the support of a majority of Republicans.
"There are a lot of people ... who believe that if the Senate compromise were put on the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote tomorrow it would pass," Earnest said. "We do have a situation where a relatively small number of Republicans are blocking a piece of legislation that has bipartisan majority support."
Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, fully supports the immigration bill.
"Every worker needs to be treated with respect and in order to be treated with respect, they need to become legal citizens," Perdue said. "They're making money, they're paying taxes in more of an open way than they typically would because they're not in hiding. I wouldn't call them productive citizens the way they are now."
A representative of the state Chamber of Commerce did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday, although the national Chamber has been supportive of the Senate bill.
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.