Carl Guardino, head of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, came away from a meeting with House GOP whip Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield a few moments ago on Friday saying he “would bet on” comprehensive immigration reform getting to passage this year.
“Kevin is a long-time personal friend,” Guardino said of McCarthy. “We just met one-on-one and I firmly believe, without breaking confidences, that we are going to see deliberative and thoughtful action in the House when they reconvene in September and October.”

“I would bet on it,” he added.

Guardino brought a small group of 12 CEOs and 8 executives of tech companies to meet with 56 members of Congress (not staff) over three days this week, including 31 Republicans, “all strategically selected,” he said.

The group linked up in an “unlikely alliances” strategy with the California Strawberry Commission, including first and second generation growers from Salinas and elsewhere, to lobby Congress on immigration. The House is recessing for five weeks having passed nothing on immigration, even piecemeal bills. Republicans have shown serious divisions and waffling over how to proceed. The Senate passed a giant bill (S. 744) with a big bipartisan majority.

Asked about Silicon Valley’s reception among House conservatives who like to tout their independence from business, Guardino said, “There are some really on both sides of the aisle who don’t always like business, but they love small business and they love entrepreneurs.

“I like to joke that everyone loves start-ups, and they only hate you if you become successful.”

Guardino said the group made clear that they employ workers throughout the country, in the districts of House members far from Silicon Valley. Some of the executives are themselves immigrants, and Guardino said he could see members “lean in” as they told their stories.

The tech industry wants a big increase in H-1b temporary visas for skilled workers and green cards for immigrant graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, all provided in the Senate bill.

Fall is make-or-break for any immigration overhaul. Failure would put off action until after the next mid-term election in 2014 and probably for the rest of the Obama administration. California strawberry growers said they are in a crisis situation, disc-ing crops for lack of workers to harvest them. It has become very difficult and dangerous for farm workers to cross the border, given the tightening on the U.S. side and cartel extortions on the Mexican side. With birth rates in Mexico declining and the Mexican economy improving, there are fewer who want to make the attempt.