With the midterm elections looming in the fall, immigration reform will be a tougher lift in 2014, according to AOL co-founder Steve Case.
"There's no question that it becomes more complicated as we approach 2014,” he said during an interview with Fusion on Tuesday.
Case, an entrepreneur and investor, has been deeply involved in lobbying the White House and Congress to back immigration reform. While he believes it will be harder to for lawmakers to pass a bill, Case remains optimistic it’s possible.
He said it’s a “disappointment” the issue has been stalled in the House for months. But he believes there is still “good momentum” and a broad, bipartisan coalition propelling it.
"If you had asked a year ago [if] comprehensive immigration reform had passed the Senate, most people would have said the odds would have been pretty low,” he said. “But it did."
Case, like many in the tech sector, supports immigration reform primarily because it could provide a boon for companies looking to attract and retain high-skilled workers from overseas.
But he also supports comprehensive reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He said there’s little chance advocates from the tech sector would abandon comprehensive reform in favor of a more limited package that focuses on high-skilled visas, which enjoys broad support from both political parties.
"A lot of people in the tech industry, myself included, have been talking about the need for reform on immigration for a decade but was focused on narrowly on the tech issues, if you will,” he said. “And that didn't get done. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
Support from groups like Latino organizations and religious institutions are needed to pressure Congress to act.
“Even if you only cared about the high-skilled issues, the best path to get high-skilled reform passed is to build support for a comprehensive solution,” he said.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.