Will New Congress Pass Immigration Reform?

In the fertile valleys of California's Santa Barbara County, when it comes to immigration, the president of the local growers' association, Richard Quandt, voices a common complaint.

"We didn't have enough workers this year," Quandt says.

In Los Angeles, restaurant owner Blair Salisbury has the same lament, CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports.

"People ask me the question, 'Why don't you hire more non-Hispanics?' Trust me — they're not there," Salisbury says.

They are two different businesses, but they share one common problem. Now these two Republicans share something else in common: Both are pinning their hopes on the new Democratic-controlled Congress to help them get the immigrant labor they say they need.

Salisbury says he does expect things to change. "We're going to have to go with some type of guest worker program," he says.

That's exactly what President Bush has been pushing. But even with some 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, all the outgoing Republican-controlled Congress could agree on was a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border. In California, where immigrants are slicing the celery Americans will be dicing for Thanksgiving stuffing, many employers want a more sweeping solution.

"We can do better as a country, but the Congress needs to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform," Quandt says.

It would be a mistake to assume that just because Congress is changing that there will be significant change in immigration policy. Democrats might find it just as thorny a problem to solve as the Republicans did.

"We still have deep divisions in both the Democratic and Republican party," says Jeanne Butterfield of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "We have Democrats who will not go for anything that has a temporary worker program in it. We have Republicans who won't vote for anything that has a broad-ranging legalization program in it."

But now, with the president and presumed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi both wanting a guest worker program and both parties eager to win alienated Latino voters, the time might just be ripe for immigration reform.



For more information about the issue of immigration:

Click here to read more from the American Immigration Law Foundation.

The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank dedicated to the study of the movement of people worldwide.

Compete America is a coalition of over 200 corporations, universities, research institutions and trade associations committed to assuring that U.S. employers have the ability to hire and retain the world's best talent.