Report: Firms Push Immigration for Cheap Labor

Tuesday, 06 Jan 2009 04:06 PM

By Mike Tighe

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Many U.S. corporations use one hand to pull for more immigrants and amnesty for illegal immigrants, while the other hand pushes their own workers out the door, according to a new report that castigates such lobbying efforts.

At the same time, some companies have both hands out for federal taxpayer bailouts, according to the report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

And the businesses, which also push to allow more foreign guest workers, are not alone in seeking looser immigration laws: During the past three years, more than 500 corporations, trade associations, business groups, labor organizations, government agencies, schools, and nonprofit groups attempted to influence key congressional immigration-related legislation, according to FAIR, a national nonprofit group pressing to decrease immigration.

The study is the first to examine lobbying on immigration policy, and it reveals a wide scope of influence peddling, FAIR said in a news release announcing the results Tuesday.

"This new report demonstrates conclusively that the hallmark of corporate concern about immigration policy has been to increase their own access to cheap foreign labor," FAIR President Dan Stein said. "Equally evident from this lobbying investigation is that the public interest has been almost entirely absent from efforts to influence the direction of U.S. immigration policy.”

About 98 percent of the 521 businesses, organizations, and agencies examined fought to increase immigration, permit amnesty, and allow more guest workers, the FAIR study found. Only 2 percent supported reducing immigration and bolstering enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, it said.

Almost 60 percent of immigration lobbying between 2006 and 2008 traces to U.S. corporations and business and trade associations ranging from high tech to agriculture, FAIR said.

“These interest groups — some of whom played key roles in creating the nation’s current economic crisis — are likely to renew their lobbying efforts against a backdrop of a severe recession, rising unemployment, and record government deficits,” the report said.

The businesses’ main goals included:

  • Amnesty for the estimated 13 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.

  • Dramatic increases in foreign guest workers at all skill levels.

  • Increased admission of foreign students to U.S. universities, and subsequent entry to the U.S. labor market.

    "In the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, many of these companies are simultaneously asking for more cheap foreign labor while laying off existing U.S. workers,” Stein said. “It's contradictory behavior and shows an appalling lack of community and corporate responsibility."

    The FAIR study included entities such as Accenture LLP; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the American Nursery and Landscape Association; the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO; Associated Builders and Contractors; Chrysler Corp.; Exxon Mobil; Hewlett-Packard; Home Depot; International Foodservice Distributors Association; Micron Technology; National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; National Venture Capital Association; Nestle USA; Northwestern University; Oracle Corp.; and Principal Financial Group.

    The full text of the report, “Immigration Lobbying: A Window into the World of Special Interests,” is available at FAIR's Web site, www.fairus.org.

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