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- 12-09-2012, 05:04 PM #1
Immigration issue draws lobbyists — and their money
Immigration issue draws lobbyists — and their money
Alan Gomez, USA TODAY
Refocused efforts on immigration legislation have prompted the creation of special groups.
Actress Eva Longoria speaks last month at the Fourth Annual Latino Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Gala in Long Beach, Calif. She is part of group pushing for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.(Photo: Todd Williamson, AP)
7:29AM EST December 9. 2012 -
WASHINGTON — As Congress prepares to tackle the massive issue of immigration, legislators understood that the central issues have not changed much since their last attempt failed in 2007.
But Jennifer Korn, executive director of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Network, said the motivation to change the nation's law on legal and illegal immigration has definitely changed.
"There's two things that speak to elected officials: one is money, and the other is the vote," said Korn, who was President George W. Bush's director of Hispanic and Women's Affairs during the 2007 negotiations.
The election results provided all the attention needed to the importance of the Hispanic vote. President Obama beat out Republican challenger Mitt Romney 71%-27% among Hispanics, and Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner, have since embraced the need to alter the nation's immigration laws.
And now comes the money.
Shortly after the election, a group of influential Republicans announced the creation of Republicans for Immigration Reform, a super PAC designed to help GOP members of Congress who support a comprehensive immigration solution. The super PAC was created by Carlos Gutierrez, former Commerce secretary for President George W. Bush, and Charlie Spies, the treasurer of Restore our Future, the primary super PAC that backed Romney's presidential campaign.
"There's never been money put behind this to really have an impact and have influence and have some dollars behind the effort," Gutierrez said. "That's what we plan to do with the super PAC."
Convincing enough Republicans to embrace any plan that includes the legalization of the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants will be at the heart of the immigration debate. Many in the party, including Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, decry such attempts as "amnesty" for people who have broken the nation's laws.
And while Democrats have widely embraced a plan that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a group of powerful Hispanic Democrats are creating their own organization to hammer the point home.
Led by actress Eva Longoria, San Antonio architect Henry Muñoz and Democratic National Committee member Andres Lopez — all big fundraisers for Obama — the group will focus on delivering their message on immigration legislation to voters around the country.
"In politics, it's all about right timing. And this is an idea whose time has come," Lopez said.
Lobbying and advocating for immigration legislation on Capitol Hill has always been a unique endeavor, bringing in a wide, varied group of interests who usually don't share much in common. For example, business leaders have worked closely with groups they usually don't get along with.
"The (U.S. Chamber of Commerce) has long had a working relationship with the unions and liberal groups in support of comprehensive immigration reform, in which we have often allied with the Democrats," said Chamber Vice President Randy Johnson. "But we recognize that a bill has to be bipartisan and we will spend time working both sides."
Agricultural companies looking for reliable workers from Central and South America have worked with high-tech business leaders looking for computer engineers from China and India.
On Dec. 4, the National Immigration Forum hosted a conference in D.C. where conservative religious leaders joined law enforcement officials to call for a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants. While the pastors were explaining the moral imperative of treating those immigrants fairly, the police chiefs were explaining how legalizing those people would help them fight crime.
Bringing together so many voices also leads to major headaches.
Vivek Wadhwa, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is now a fellow at Stanford Law School, said entrepreneurs developing smaller start-up companies are being drowned out by larger companies.
In the 2012 election, President Obama's re-election campaign received more than $7 million from computer and Internet companies, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. That doesn't count million-dollar checks donated to the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action from Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Mark Pincus of Zynga and Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla.
"The big companies have hired their Washington, D.C., people. They have their lobbyists," Wadhwa said. "But Microsoft doesn't speak to represent the start-ups here. The students at Stanford, the venture capitalists and the angel investors — there's no one to speak on their behalf."
One constant throughout the process has been the illegal immigrants themselves and groups who advocate on their behalf. Young illegal immigrants won a victory earlier this year when Obama announced that he would halt the deportations of many of them. And many feel that momentum, and that experience, can help carry through to a broader bill putting most of the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally on a pathway to citizenship.
"There are deeper roots in affected communities, and there's a more active base than there might have been in 2007," said B. Loewe, spokesman for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "Now you see sustained and ongoing organizing and community-level infrastructure around this issue."
Little is certain about how an immigration solution will look like in the end. House Republicans led by Boehner want to pass small bills, one by one, while Obama wants a comprehensive bill that includes different issues. There are major disagreements over how much more the country should spend on building up the southwest border with Mexico, how to screen job applicants for their immigration status and how to treat the nation's population of illegal immigrants.
Frank Sharry, who has worked on immigration legislation for years, said whatever happens, the money involved and the built-up momentum will lead to a loud debate.
"My own experience, painfully, is that it's hard to pass immigration legislation with a quiet, special-interest push. It's too controversial," said Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a group that supports legalizing the country's illegal immigrants. "The measures that pass are those are litigated in public, in a loud debate."
DON'T REWARD THE CRIMINAL ACTIONS OF MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS
BY GIVING THEM CITIZENSHIP
- 12-09-2012, 10:25 PM #2
Yes, money talks, that is part of the reason why our immigration laws have not been enforced for decades imo.We have immigration laws that just need to be enforced.
- 12-09-2012, 10:36 PM #3
Demos want the votes, Repubs want the cheap labor. Neither party makes policy from the point of view of what is best for America or Americans.
Americans first in this magnificent country
American jobs for American workers
Fair trade, not free trade