While comprehensive immigration reform looks to be stalled until the lame duck session or the beginning of the 112th Congress, chief executives of several major corporations and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are joining together to form a coalition, “Partnership for a New American Economy,” advocating for immigration reform. Bloomberg stated the group’s intent, saying that “somebody has to lead and explain to the country why [immigration reform] is in our interests.” Although some may question the coalition’s intentions—Fox & Friends is busy trying to distort the coalition’s message as “borders first”—the group of mayors and successful CEOs may actually just want to make the economic case that “if America wants to remain economically competitive,” it needs to have policies in place that allow the world’s best and brightest to succeed and thrive here.
The CEOs include Rupert Murdoch of News Corp., as well as executives from Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, and Disney. Murdoch appeared on Fox News to discuss the coalition. “We’re just going to keep the pressure on the congressmen,” Murdoch said. “I think we can show to the public the benefits of having migrants and the jobs that go with them.” The group plans to publish studies, conduct polls, convene forums on immigration, and pay for public education campaigns.
The group’s stated objectives are to:
- Secure the borders
- Develop an easy system for work eligibility verification
- Hold companies accountable for breaking immigration laws
- Develop a pathway to legal status for all undocumented immigrants
Mayor Bloomberg stated that he believed all 12 million undocumented workers should be given the opportunity for citizenship, and said that any lawmaker who wanted to deport all of them was “living in a fantasy world.”
“I can’t think of any ways to destroy this country quite as direct and impactful as our immigration policy,” he said Wednesday. “We educate the best and the brightest, and then we don’t give them a green card.”
Likely, Bloomberg and his cadre of CEOs realize that comprehensive immigration reform is a benefit to the economy, while letting the current problems stagnate would, as Bloomberg said, be “national suicide.” Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger echoed this statement, calling immigration “our great strength as a nation,” and “critical for continued economic growth.” He continued by reasoning that “to remain competitive in the 21st century, we need effective immigration reform that invites people to contribute to our shared success by building their own American dream.”
Bloomberg addressed unemployment directly on Fox News, stating that “there’s this belief that immigrants take jobs away [from Americans] and that’s just not true.” He also called for a plan to bring in and give legal status to immigrants who were able to come to the U.S., start businesses, and employ American workers.
The group, which collectively run companies making more than $220 billion in annual sales, plans to use television and radio to try to do what others have not been able to, convince Congress to take up and pass comprehensive immigration reform. If the investment, and more importantly, the leadership, is up to the task, it may actually be possible.
Photo by Edward Reed.