Neil Munro, Daily Caller, March 26, 2013
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.
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.
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.
In fact, the Sunlight Foundation itself is one of the many groups that are partly funded by the Soros Foundation, which is using its money to help pass the immigration bills. Sunlight received $300,000 from Soros in 2010 and 2011.
The Soros group has spent more that $70 million since 2005 to boost groups seeking to increase immigration, according to a February report by WNYC.org.
The groups are trying to pass a “comprehensive” immigration bill that would substantially alter the nation’s current immigration laws. Their strategy involves using business lobbyists to mollify GOP concerns that any amnesty would boost Democratic votes in 15 years. At the same time, progressive advocacy groups are trying to mollify widespread Democratic opposition to imported guest-workers.
A March 21 blog post by Sunlight Foundation says that three business sectors “tech, agribusiness and construction — have contributed more than $51 million since 1988 [in donations] to lawmakers who are either on committees with key roles in drafting immigration legislation or who are otherwise closely involved with the bill legislation.”
The blog post links to a Feb. 13 post by the foundation, which said that Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer — the leader of the eight senators drafting the pending 2013 immigration bill — has received $4.86 million from the three sectors.