SACRAMENTO -- With comprehensive immigration overhaul languishing in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, major Republican donors from California are prodding members of their party to pass a bill by the end of the year.
A group of 14 deep-pocketed contributors and donor groups sent a letter Tuesday to the state's Republican representatives in Washington, advocating for a bill that includes border security and a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living in the country without legal status.
"Immigrants play key roles at every level of the American economy and to that of our own state – from high-skill workers to seasonal laborers, from Los Angeles neighborhoods to small town main streets, immigrants help drive our economic growth," the letter reads. "These are Republican issues. Republicans ought to be welcoming immigrants and be seen as doing so."
“If our great nation is to continue to grow and prosper, we need to reform and modernize the U.S. immigration system,” said Andrew Puzder in a statement.
Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns fast-food chains including Carl's Jr., gave at least $230,000 to Republican candidates, committees and outside groups in the 2012 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Other signatories to the letter are Ambassador Frank E. Baxter, James S. and Marilyn Brown, David Hanna, David Horowitz, Dick Long, Peter A. Magowan, Richard Reisman, Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle, Hispanic 100, Lincoln Club of Orange County, New Majority Orange County and New Majority San Diego. All of the donors and groups also signed on to a letter addressed to all Republican representatives in the House.
The Senate approved a sweeping immigration overhaul last month by a 68-32 vote, with 14 Republicans voting in favor along with all Senate Democrats.
But the bill's future is uncertain in the GOP-controlled House. Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said earlier this month that immigration was not his top priority, and a key bloc of the House Republican caucus opposes the path to citizenship that anchors the Senate plan.
Several constituencies typically aligned with Republicans, including business leaders and some faith groups, have been pressing for changes to the nation's immigration system.
The letters were paid for by Republicans for Immigration Reform, a group formed just weeks after November's presidential election. Its cofounder, Charlie Spies, had run a pro-Mitt Romney "super PAC" during the campaign, a role that offered ample opportunity to meet the party's most prolific donors.