Rupert Murdoch is pressuring GOP leaders to revive the fading push for an immigration rewrite by passing a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to stay and also boost the use of guest-workers.
“Societies don’t advance when our elected officials act like seat-warmers,” the News Corp head wrote in a June 18 Wall Street Journal op-ed that seems to be aimed at House Speaker John Boehner, who has blocked the amnesty and guest-worker bill approved by the Senate last June.
That criticism matches widespread Democratic criticism of Boehner.
Murdoch’s public intervention may be a surprise for many progressives who assume Murdoch and other wealthy business leaders have few conflicts with the GOP, and have few points of agreement with progressives.
But the immigration bill is strongly backed by an alliance of business leaders — including Murdoch and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — and of progressives, and is the top 2014 legislative priority for President Barack Obama.
Murdoch framed his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal as an answer to the populist wave that defeated Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his June primary.
“When I learned that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had lost his Republican primary, my heart sank… [and] I worried that Mr. Cantor’s loss would be misconstrued and make Congress reluctant to tackle this urgent need,” Murdoch wrote.
“Some politicians and pundits will argue that this is not the time to bring immigration reform to the congressional floor—that it will frighten an already anxious workforce and encourage more extreme candidates, especially on the right,” said Murdoch.
“They may be right about the short-term politics,” admitted Murdoch.
“But they are dead wrong about the long-term interests of our country,” he added.
“I have more faith in the compassion and fortitude of the American people, and in their ability to reject extreme views on either side of the political spectrum,” he said.
Murdoch blamed the unions and “nativists who scream about amnesty” for the Congress’ refusal to pass the bill, which would double the annual inflow of immigrants and guest-workers to four million per year. That’s equivalent to the number of Americans who turn 18 each year.
In fact, the unions are now led by global-minded progressives who fully back the Senate’s immigration bill. The unions’ memberships, by and large, oppose the bill.
Dave Brat beat Cantor by 56 percent to 44 percent in a win partly driven by opposition to an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
In his victory speech, Brat challenged Murdoch and other business leaders by declaring, “I will fight to end crony capitalist programs that benefit the rich and powerful,” and criticized amnesty as “big business gets the cheap labor and the American people pay the tab.”
Murdoch’s message was very different. “People are looking for leadership… [and] one of the most immediate ways to revitalize our economy is by passing immigration reform,” Murdoch countered. “It is suicidal to suggest closing our doors to the world’s entrepreneurs, or worse, to continue with large-scale deportations,” he wrote.
Currently, immigrants and the children of immigrants comprise 50 percent of California’s population of youths aged 16 to 26, and one-quarter of the nation’s population of youths aged 16 to 26. Most of these youths lean Democratic, although GOP support is higher among established and integrated immigrants in the third generation or later.
In his op-ed, Murdoch called for an amnesty for the fast-growing population of roughly 12 million illegal immigrants.
“We need to give those individuals who are already here—after they have passed checks to ensure they are not dangerous criminals—a path to citizenship so they can pay their full taxes, be counted, and become more productive members of our community,” he wrote.
Murdoch also called for rules that would allow companies to hire an unlimited number of foreign professionals in place of American graduates.
“We need to do away with the cap on [professionals’] visas, which is arbitrary and results in U.S. companies struggling to find the high-skill workers they need to continue growing,” he said.
A Washington Post poll in 2011 showed two-to-one opposition to extra guest workers.
An August 2013 poll by Public Opinion Research showed that 60 percent of respondents said they believe strongly that American companies “should try harder to recruit and train … [Black, Latino, young and disabled] unemployed Americans before seeking new foreign workers.” Only 2 percent strongly disagreed, said the poll, which was funded by NumbersUSA, which is pushing for reduced immigration.
A 2014 Rasmussen poll showed that 68 percent of swing-voting moderates oppose a law that would allow companies to annually bring in 500,000 guest-workers to work for the food industry, according to an unpublished January poll of likely voters by Rasmussen. Only 25 percent of swing voters supported the measure.