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One day after Sen. Orrin Hatch told Utah business leaders "I'd like to support it, but I'm not there yet," volunteers from Organizing for Action, a nonprofit alliance of 2012 Obama voters, rallied in front of Hatch's downtown Salt Lake City office to say now is the time to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Calling Thursday a "Day of Action," the group argues too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers, noting legal status for those immigrants would bolster the U.S. economy by billions.

The American Immigration Council also released a letter signed by more than 600 professors and scholars from across the nation, urging action on immigration reform. "As the community responsible for educating the next generation of Americans, we see the harm that a broken immigration system has had on our students and their families," the letter reads.

Hatch is pushing Congress to boost the numbers of H-1B visas to retain highly skilled immigrant workers and international students. While "killer" amendments have been floated, Hatch says the "Gang of Eight" immigration reform bill — debuting in the Senate Judiciary Committee next week — needs to pass the Senate by a large margin to have any chance in the Republican-controlled House.

"The polls indicate the people are ready for this until you start talking about what it really means," Hatch says. "So it's going to take some real leadership."

— Derek P. Jensen