COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Some South Carolina leaders are backing Sen. Lindsey Graham after his decision to join a bipartisan group working on immigration reform. The eight senators plan to introduce legislation that would create a pathway to legal status for immigrants and recognize the 21st century economic needs of the United States.
Local leaders debuted a new ad supporting Graham and immigration reform in a news conference Wednesday. The ad is paid for by the super PAC Republicans for Immigration Reform.
Leaders at the news conference pointed out South Carolina's economic dependence on immigrant workers.
"Think of the people that we need in our agribusiness industries, in our tourism industries, and also in construction and landscaping and other areas, and those are vital," said Ike McLeese, president of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce.
Not everyone shares Graham's views on immigration reform. An ad paid for by Numbers USA -- a group focused on controlling the flow of immigrants into the U.S. -- questions Graham's approach.
Still, supporters say the current process of becoming a legal U.S. citizen is keeping out some people who could benefit the state and nation.
"We need to make sure that we've got workers that are available and legal, and at the same time, the process needs to be so that it's not so overburdensome that you miss out on having workers available at any time," said Larry McKenzie of the SC Farm Bureau.
The ad supporting Sen. Graham starts airing this week. He is one of four Republican senators working on the proposal.