Posted on February 26, 2009

New FAIR Report: Who’s Lobbying on Immigration?

Federation for American Immigration Reform, February 2009

According to the findings of a new research study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), 521 corporations, trade associations, business groups, labor organizations, government entities, and nonprofit organizations reported lobbying on three critical immigration bills introduced in Congress over the past three years. The report, Immigration Lobbying: A Window into the World of Special Interests, examines lobbying activities on two versions of the comprehensive amnesty and guest worker bills that were introduced in the Senate in 2006 and again in 2007. The third piece of legislation was a 2008 House bill that would have scrapped the highly effective E-Verify program.

Immigration Lobbying: A Window into the World of Special Interests, is the first in-depth look at lobbying activity on these important bills. Had they been enacted, millions of illegal aliens would have received amnesty and American workers would have faced irreparable harm.

Among those filing reports with the Clerk of the House and the Senate Office of Public Records, 98 percent of those lobbying on these bills were on record supporting amnesty for illegal aliens, increases in government mandated immigration, new or expanded guest worker programs, and elimination of effective procedures to verify worker eligibility.

Collectively, those who reported lobbying on these immigration bills spent $345 million during this time period. While it is impossible to determine how much of that considerable sum was spent lobbying on specific pieces of immigration legislation, virtually all of the lobbying money expended by these groups is directed at gaining some benefit for themselves.

Only about 2 percent of those lobbying on these bills are known to have promoted positions in favor of enforcement of existing immigration laws, limiting the influx of foreign guest workers, and reducing overall levels of immigration. This small group working to advance the public interest in the immigration debate included FAIR.

Prominent among those lobbying for more immigration and greater access to foreign labor are many who are responsible for the nation’s financial crisis, and/or have sought bailouts from the American taxpayers. In addition, many of the corporations, and business and trade groups that were at the forefront of lobbying for amnesty and guest workers have been laying-off large numbers of workers.

Business interests dominated the lobbying that took place on key immigration legislation between 2006 and 2008. Either directly, or as part of trade and industry associations, the business sector accounted for more than 59 percent of those seeking to influence immigration policies. The technology sector, which has been primarily interested in increased access to guest workers, was the most active business interest lobbying on immigration.

Other key business players included the hospitality industry, construction, and agriculture–all of which benefit directly from low-skill foreign labor, many of whom are in the country illegally. Also making their voices heard loudly was the banking and financial services industry. This sector, which has mismanaged the economy into its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, was eager to provide mortgages, loans, credit cards, and arrange money transfers for illegal aliens sending remittances abroad.

Immigration Lobbying: A Window into the World of Special Interests provides a unique perspective explaining why in spite of overwhelming public support for immigration enforcement and overall immigration reductions, Washington refuses to listen. The lobbying dollars spent to gain amnesty for illegal aliens, opened the doors for more guest workers, and increase other flows of immigration have been in reverse proportion to wishes and interests of the American people.

The report also demonstrates the effectiveness of those involved with the immigration reform movement. In spite of being vastly outspent and outgunned by lobbyists for every conceivable special interest, the adamant refusal of the American public to capitulate on amnesty and guest worker programs has held these powerful interests to a stand-off. While representing just 2 percent of the lobbying activity that took place on immigration policy, FAIR and other public interest reform groups were able to effectively represent the interests of the American people and provide them with a voice in this debate.

As we begin a new administration and a new Congress, during an extraordinary period in our country’s history, FAIR will not settle for a legislative stalemate on Capitol Hill. In 2009 we will vigorously press the interests of the American people and expose the special interest agendas of those who continue to place their own political and economic interests before those of the public.

[Editor’s Note: FAIR’s report “Immigration Lobbying: A Window into the World of Special Interests” can be read or downloaded in PDF format here.]