POLITICS
05/05/2013 11:19 am ET Updated May 05, 2013

Warren Buffett Calls For 'More Logical Immigration Policy' For Economic Growth

WASHINGTON -- Describing a sound immigration system as critical to economic growth, renowned investor Warren Buffett said Sunday that it's time lawmakers in Washington establish "a more logical immigration policy" to attract talent to the U.S. workforce.

"We've been bouncing this one around for a considerable period of time," Buffett said in an interview on ABC's "This Week." "I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular -- in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here."

A bipartisan group in the Senate has produced a comprehensive immigration package that President Obama has said he would like to sign this year.

The bill has divided many Republicans over the so-called "pathway to citizenship" it would offer for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the country. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who helped put the package together, has said that the bill wouldn't pass the GOP-controlled House as it currently stands.

With the package's future now uncertain, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the so-called gang of eight, said on Sunday that the bill isn't perfect, but that the lawmakers who created it need to "stand by the basic agreement" in it.

"We've got to basically stick to the standard of what we've established, what we've agreed over the last three months," Durbin told Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

Making an economic case for a pathway to citizenship, Buffett said Sunday that the reform package should "certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens" to deepen the talent pool of the labor force. Buffett's argument echoes that of much of the U.S. business community, particularly Silicon Valley, whose executives have long complained about a lack of access to visas for computer engineers and other tech workers.

Speaking of political gridlock generally, Buffett bemoaned the "more partisan" atmosphere on Capitol Hill, which he attributed partly to a primary process that weeds out moderate candidates.

"It's tough to watch what happens in Washington," Buffett said. "It's gotten more and more partisan."

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