"After watching the last election, I don't care what happens, fear of getting slaughtered is going to be the operating factor," John Husing, chief economist for the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, said at a meeting on immigration reform at Cal State San Bernardino.
The meeting - "Partnership for a New American Economy and the National Immigration Forum" - brought together educators, civic leaders and students to talk about reform.
To Husing, immigration reform is coming, and opposing it would be futile, if you're a politician.
"Demographics is the easiest forecast you can make. And there has been a demographic shift in the nation," Husing said in response to a question.
Similar discussions occurred at many college campuses across the nation Friday.
But as news spread that the two suspects in the Boston area bombings were immigrants themselves, the national immigration discussion Friday included calls to fill holes in the system that some leaders said led to the attacks in Massachusetts, which led to the death of four people.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Steve King, also R-Iowa, were among the congressional voices calling for closing gaps in immigration policies and delaying plans to change citizenship and visa policies because of the attack on the Boston Marathon and events that have followed that act of terrorism.
Both suspects in those actions of violence were born abroad, although they had been living in the United States for years.
Still, at the CSUSB conference, despite voices like Grassley's and King's, immigration reform has its own momentum, driven by a nation that is ready for it, participants said.
Husing said politicians "operate out of fear and self-preservation" and will realize that the mass of voters favor immigration reform.
"I have never been this optimistic that this issue is going to be put behind us," Husing said. "I don't think you could stop it. "
Panel member Enrique Murillo, a professor in the CSUSB College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said that Grassley's comments "are the old paradigm that looks at immigration through the lens of enforcement. "
In Washington on Friday, lawmakers held the first congressional Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration reform, where leaders are beginning to craft legislation that could deal with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., their children and foreign students while carving a path to citizenship for future generations of migrants.
"I'm not sure what the final bill will look like, but it's almost certain something is going to be passed," Murillo said.
"We need to keep the pressure on for this country to address immigration reform," Cal State San Bernardino President Tomas D. Morales said at the start of the panel discussion.
Mike Gallo, president and CEO of Kelly Space & Technology in San Bernardino, said, "We are clearly investing to give graduate school slots to foreign students. When we send them home packing, we don't get a return on our investment. "