Today, the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law Membership held a hearing on the “Role of Immigration in Strengthening America’s Economy” featuring New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fox owner Rupert Murdoch (an immigrant himself). The two media moguls formed a new coalition earlier this year to press for immigration reform. They asked lawmakers to make it easier for skilled immigrants to get visas to work in the U.S. to keep the U.S. competitive and decried deporting the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, calling it “impossible.”
Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch shared his own personal story:
As an immigrant, I chose to live in America, because it’s one of the freest and most vibrant nations in the world. And as an immigrant, I feel an obligation to speak up for immigration that will keep America the most economically robust, creative and freedom-loving nation in the world. America’s future prosperity and security depends on getting our immigration policy right and doing it quickly.
Mayor Bloomberg also testified about how immigration is an important economic issue:
Our system of immigration, I think it’s fair to say, is broken. I think it’s undermining our economy. It is slowing our recovery, and it really is hurting millions of Americans. History shows that every immigrant generation in the United States has fueled the economic engine that makes the United States the strongest economy in the world.
Yet the hearing became more interesting during the question and answer period when long-time anti-immigrant Congressman, Steve King, asked Mayor Bloomberg to both respond to the testimony of nativist group CIS and provide citations of economic studies proving that immigration is good for the economy. Bloomberg replied:
Yeah, the [economic] study is what goes on in New York City everyday. Rupert and I together employ about 75,000 people and so we know a little about job creation…In New York City the issue is not undocumented, it’s how we create jobs.
Steve King then went on to ask why Americans should believe promises to enforce immigration laws when it hasn’t happened in the past? To which Murdoch replied directly to the Congressman:
With respect you don’t have to accept any promises, you ought to be able to make laws in this country and make sure they are enforced. It’s not up to me as a private citizen.
Bloomberg also revealed the irony in Congress, complaining about things they themselves refuse to fix:
It’s just duplicitous for Congress to sit there and say they shouldn’t [hire illegal workers] and not give them the tools.
Today’s hearing was yet another example of how immigration is more than an issue of borders and migration, but an economic one. Bloomberg and Murdoch are two of the most successful businessmen in America. It’s doubtful their empires could have been built sitting on a dais year after year, blaming others for the failures of their own institutions. I’m sure for Mayor Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch, the approach Congress has taken on the immigration issue is very hard to understand.
Photo by World Economic Forum.