In Surprise Move, Tea Party Leader Lobbies For Immigration Reform

Is the tea party hopping on the immigration reform bandwagon?

While much of the conservative base mobilizes against “amnesty,” the co-founder of Tea Party Express, one of the largest tea party groups, is calling on Congress to pass immigration reform that includes a path to legalization for the 11 million people in the country unlawfully.

In an op-ed Wednesday for Roll Call titled, “Conservatives Need to Fix the Broken U.S. Immigration System,” Tea Party Express co-founder Sal Russo calls on Congress to “pass legislation that will fix our broken system,” describing it as an important ingredient to boosting the economy.

Russo endorses reforms to high-skilled visas to entice entrepreneurs as well as engineers and doctors because “we do not have the talent we need to fill the jobs.” He champions border security as “essential.” And he says the U.S. must bring the 11 million undocumented people “out of the shadows” and “get them right by the law in exchange for legal status, but not unbridled amnesty” after penalizing them and making them wait in line.

The Republican-led House isn’t expected to act on the Senate-passed immigration overhaul, in large part because the GOP’s tea party base has opposed more lenient immigration policies.