A Broad Coalition Of Corporations And Business Groups Are Pushing Congressional Leaders To Pass Legislation To Create A Path To Citizenship For Undocumented Immigrants Who Arrived In The U.S. As Children.
Photo: On June 30, 2018, about 10,000 people gathered in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota calling for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be abolished.
Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue / Flickr
Published March 5, 2021
The Center for Responsive Politics [By Alyce McFadden]-
More than 100 businesses and groups signed on to a March 3 letter endorsing the American Dream and Promise Act, which would allow an estimated 2.1 million people currently living in the U.S to apply for permanent citizenship. The letter emphasized the critical role these immigrants — often referred to as “Dreamers” — play in America’s workforce.
“They are vital to our nation’s strength, especially now when tens of thousands of them are currently working as essential front-line personnel fighting COVID-19,” the letter said.
A Senate version of the Dream Act was sponsored in early February by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). An earlier iteration of the bill passed with some bipartisan support in the House in June 2019.
Voters of both parties are broadly supportive of the proposed legislation. A February poll by Quinnipiac University found 66 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of voters overall support giving Dreamers the chance to become American citizens.
The Dream Act is just one part of President Joe Biden’s comprehensive immigration package, the totality of which is unlikely to reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to pass in the Senate.
However, Republicans are poised to compromise on some provisions including the Dream Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a proposal that would open citizenship up to undocumented farmworkers.
Signatories of Wednesday’s letter include tech giants Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon as well as powerful trade organizations including the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The coalition organized a series of meetings yesterday, March 4th, between Dreamers who work in American tech companies and a dozen Senators, including both Democrats and Republicans.
GOP donors encourage lawmakers’ pivot from Trump immigration policies
The number of businesses lobbying on immigration legislation jumped under former President Donald Trump, whose immigration policies received pushback from big businesses and GOP interest groups alike.
Tech companies, which often found themselves at loggerheads with Trump and his allies, were among the most active clients lobbying on immigration in 2020. Microsoft alone retained 31 lobbyists to work on immigration issues.
Tech companies and their employees favor Democrats when it comes to campaign contributions, but business groups and trade organizations that typically back Republicans also took a stand against Trump’s stance on immigration.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long been critical of Trump’s stance on immigration. The Chamber is always among the nation’s single biggest lobbying clients.
In 2020, the group spent $81.9 million to lobby the federal government, and employed 28 lobbyists to lobby on immigration.
“Policies adopted over the past several years have undermined critical employment-based visa programs and significantly hindered many different companies’ ability to expand their domestic operations and create jobs for Americans,” Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue said in a February statement.
In 2019, Trump sought to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants temporary residence and work permits to Dreamers.
After Biden reversed the effort with an executive order on his first day in office, the Chamber of Commerce released a statement praising the action.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative interest group backed by conservative powerbroker Charles Koch, also opposed the effort to nix DACA and endorsed the Dream Act in February.
In a joint statement with the LIBRE Initiative, another Koch-backed group, Americans for Prosperity CEO Tim Phillips called the Dream Act “an important first step.” “It is encouraging to see lawmakers make immigration reform a top policy focus. This legislation opens the door to an important conversation on reforming our outdated immigration system,” the statement said.
Americans for Prosperity spent $27 million in independent expenditures to aid Republicans during the 2020 election cycle but broke with Trump prior to his bid for re-election.
For their part, immigration advocacy groups also praise the Dream Act.
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, urged lawmakers to build on the bill’s popularity and continue to work toward larger immigration reforms.
“We welcome the reintroduction of the Dream Act, especially at a time when even those with temporary protections under DACA continue to face the threat of politically motivated anti-immigrant attacks in court,” Hincapié said. “We applaud [Durbin], who has been a staunch champion for immigrant youth, and are heartened that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle continue to recognize the urgent need and overwhelming public support for a permanent solution.”