Under the Dome

Hagan explains immigration vote

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan said Thursday the immigration bill she is backing would provide a boost to North Carolina's economy, particularly its agriculture and high tech sectors.

In a teleconference, Hagan said she decided to support the bill after 75 North Carolina groups, businesses and trade associations had urged her to do so, and after measures were added to increase border security including doubling the number of security guards to 40,000.

"I support the bill because it is going to secure our borders, it's going to boost our economy, it's going to fix the immigration system so that everyone plays by the same rules and it will reduce the federal deficit by $160 billion over the first 10 years and $170 billion the following decade,'' Hagan said.

Larry Wooten, president of the N.C. Farm Bureau, said passage of the bill was critical to the state's $77 billion agriculture business, which needed a reliable source of workers to harvest the state's crops.

"This broken immigration system has not allowed the workers to come here and feel secure in helping us in agriculture," Wooten said. "This bill is not perfect, but goes along way in helping solve some of the problems in agricultural labor. This bill is supported by agricultural groups all across the country.''

Brooks Raiford, head of the NC Technology Association, which represents 600 companies, said the bill was necessary to help bring and help retain highly skilled tech workers, some of whom came to North Carolina to be educated at local college and universities. Many are likely to stay to start their own companies.

"Employers tell us they need a blend of available talent to meet their demand," Rairford said. "Many foreign workers are entrepreneurial and would benefit from making it attractive from being educated here and then start businesses and then work here.''

Hagan declined to "play the political pundit" on how her support would effect her re-election chances next year.

"I am looking at this bill as what is good for North Carolinians," Hagan said. "I am not looking at this bill from a political viewpoint.''

Republican leaders say that vulnerable Democrats such as Hagan, Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu will likely see TV run against them on the issue.

"It's just another sign that even vulnerable Democrats like Landrieu, Begich, Hagan and Pryor are more loyal to Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama then they are to middle-class men and women struggling in there home states," Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee told The Hill.

But Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the bill help Democrats in agricultural stats such as North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas.

"You have people whose businesses rely on our fixing this problem, and they're going to be people who voted to help fix it and that's good,'' Bennet told The Hill.

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