Republican Money Backs Immigration Push

NPR, April 15, 2013

As Congress readies for a drawn-out immigration debate, an expanding network of Republican fundraisers is pressing for a path to legal status for millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally.

Business leaders and donors who raised tens of millions in the last election are meeting with top GOP fundraisers and Republican lawmakers who may be reluctant to support what critics call “amnesty” for immigrants who broke the law.

At the same time, a coalition of fundraisers who support overhauling immigration is funneling donations to a new crop of outside groups designed to protect like-minded congressional Republicans who fear a backlash by GOP’s core supporters.

In most cases, the donors have ties to Wall Street and businesses that want more high- and low-skilled immigrants in the nation’s legal labor pool. Backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, these business-minded Republican fundraisers say they’re getting a relatively receptive audience in the face of an undeniable new political reality. {snip}


Top donors have signed onto a new bipartisan group known as the Partnership for a New American Economy, which includes business leaders and mayors who support a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire, backs the organization, as does top Romney backer Bill Marriott, Jr.—who heads the Marriott International hotel company—and GOP donor Jonathan Johnson, the CEO of


The donors mostly refused to identify the lawmakers they are lobbying but said they’re communicating with as many Republican elected officials and new party fundraisers as possible. {snip}


By boosting their role in the debate, major donors hope to assuage the fears of timid congressional Republicans worried about losing re-lection—or facing primary challenges—should they side with Democrats on immigration.


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