Tags: burns | gop | open | immigrants

Michael Burns: GOP Needs to Open to Immigrants, Moderates

Monday, 08 Apr 2013 09:26 PM

By Cyrus Afzali and John Bachman

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One of Hollywood’s leading executives who supports the Republican party said the GOP is being “hijacked” by anti-immigration groups and other special interests.

Michael Burns, the vice chairman of Lions Gate Entertainment, the filmmaker and entertainment powerhouse, tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview the GOP needs to open up to Hispanics and other immigrant groups or it will wither.

“The Republicans are losing a marvelous opportunity to embrace the Hispanic community through immigration reform and it’s now or never,” he said.

“The moderates that I know — and I consider myself a moderate — feel very strongly about this.”

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Burns, who has written on the need for reform within the GOP in the Huffington Post and Newsmax, said he discussed his ideas with Mitt Romney before the last election. Burns was one of a handful of Hollywood insiders who backed Romney in 2012.

But Burns slammed Romney’s “self-deportation” plan that would have required illegal immigrants to return to their home countries before becoming eligible to apply for legal status.

“It’s lunacy,” he said. “People aren’t going to return to their countries just so they can come back here in three to five years. They’ve built their life here and their family is here in many cases. They’re obviously in many cases not on a legal payroll system, but they’re earning a living here,” he said.

Burns added that such talk further distances Hispanic voters from the GOP.

Instead, Burns is arguing for an immigration plan that would allow illegals to buy citizenship if they are sponsored by an American family. Burns believes the fees could be substantial and and help solve budget problems in states that struggle with a high rate of illegal immigration.

“In California alone, if you could offer that program and have it accepted by millions of undocumented workers, you’re talking about raising potentially $10 billion,” he said.

“That could go a long way toward solving a bunch of budget issues in a large number of states. Obviously, you’d have to get the federal government to play along, but it would be a smart way to go.”

Burns points out similar federal programs currently exist, such as the EB-5 Program.
Created by Congress in 1990, the EB-5 was designed to promote economic and job growth by encouraging foreign investment.

Under the program, investors meeting certain criteria, such as creating at least 10 jobs or taking over a troubled business, are granted an allotment of EB-5 visas for their employees.
“It’s happening, but at a more expensive scale, so this is not a novel concept.

Burns talked about his family’s immigrant experience.

“I come from a family of Irish immigrants and they passed through Ellis Island,” he said.

“That was when America was a different place, but the idea that we continue to alienate these people who have been here for years when we have a chance to give them legal status and put them on a legal payroll and collect taxes … that’s an opportunity missed if we don’t take advantage of it.”

Burns suggest his plan could motivate illegals to embrace the American culture.
Immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship should get extra credit if they speak English, although the language should not be a requirement, he says.

“The idea that you would get additional points or you’d get some different credits … because you could speak English or write English well, that’d be a good thing,” he said.

Burns sees a new Republican take on immigration as the cornerstone of efforts by the party to reach out to moderate voters.

Burns said the fear of a tea party challenge is silencing moderates who could help restore the party’s luster.

“Take a look at what happened in Indiana, a state that went for Romney this year where the Republicans lost the seat because [Senator] Dick Lugar got beaten by a tea party fellow who lost the general election.

“That is happening again and again and somewhere the moderates need to grab the bull by the horns and say we want our party back.”

Burns also believes special interests are gaining an increasing amount of control over elections.

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“Congress is being effectively blackmailed by special interests who are coming in and saying ‘Vote for this, don’t vote for that,’ whether it’s gun control or immigration reform and effectively hijacking these elections. That’s a sad thing.”

He said he believes Republicans need to continue the push for states to have greater control over key issues.

“The federal government, particularly in this present administration, doesn’t want to cede power to the states because Republicans control so many state governments at the moment.

“What has to happen is Republicans on the federal level have to push to give states wider rights and the ability to manage their own states fiscally. In many cases, they’re doing a better job than the federal government is doing, so that would help.”


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