Politics
FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2013, file photo, before the New York skyline, a group of immigrant rights advocates gather near Ellis Island in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, file) FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2013, file photo, before the New York skyline, a group of immigrant rights advocates gather near Ellis Island in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, file)  

Immigration lobbies spent $1.5 billion since 2007

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

A loose alliance of business and political groups has spent almost $1.5 billion since late 2007 to rewrite the nation’s immigration law according to a new report.

The flood of money hired 3,136 lobbyists at 678 lobbying groups to pass one or more of 987 small or large bills, said the March 25 report from the  Sunlight Foundation.

“[I]n the five years (2008-2012) since the reform last died on the Senate floor, we count 6,712 quarterly lobbying reports filed by 678 lobbying organizations in 170 sectors mentioning 987 unique bills, associated with more than $1.5 billion in lobbying spending,” the Sunlight Foundation’s Lee Drutman and Alexander Furnas write.

The report corroborates lobbyists’ recent comments to The Daily Caller that business and progressive groups are spending very heavily to pass a joint “comprehensive immigration bill” this year, which could include enhanced guest worker program and some form of amnesty.

One lobbyist said he had been given a surprise offer to promote the new bills, while another said that meetings of experienced immigration lobbyists are crowded with new advocates who know little about immigration law.

“They’re hiring nearly everybody,” the second lobbyist told TheDC.

The Sunlight Foundation’s report, however, does not focus on the 2013 fight, and instead concentrates on the scale and pattern of immigration lobbying. It does not compare funding spent by pro-immigration groups to the much smaller spending by the handful of groups fighting to curb immigration and the influx of guest workers.

Those groups include Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA, which want to scale back the annual inflow of roughly one million new immigrants.

“The true stakeholders of what happens with America’s immigration policies — the American public — are left out and left behind as powerful and well-financed industry lobbyists run roughshod over their interests,” Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform told The Daily Caller.

“Special interests lobby with their checkbooks … citizens lobby with their votes and terminate the careers of those who neglect their interests,” he added.

The report says that the NumbersUSA group has an annual budget of $6 million, and has hired lobbyists at three lobbying firms.

Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA rallied public opposition to defeat 2006 and 2007 immigration bills that were championed by the progressive activists and corporate lobbyists.

Those 2006 and 2007 bills would have granted a conditional amnesty to roughly 11 million illegal immigrants, and also increased the use of guest-workers in restaurants, construction, software, farming and retail.

OpenSecrets says that NumbersUSA spent $600,000 in lobbying in 2012. That’s less than 10 percent of the $8 million spent by one company, Microsoft Corp., which is trying to up its employment of professional guest-workers under the H-1B program.