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Bloomberg and Zuckerberg push for immigration legislation

While the immigration debate has been recently "out of sight, out of mind," national and local business leaders, including big names such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have been working behind the scenes to revive the immigration policy discussion and get House Republicans to bring legislation to a vote. For months they've been recruiting local business leaders, especially those from Southern states, holding meetings and employing lobbyists in crafting a message to send to GOP lawmakers. Their purpose is to create unity among business operations and leaders and drive home the impact of the immigration legislation stalemate on industries such as manufacturing and farming, and its importance to local economies. To be sure attorneys are overseeing these legislative intricacies.

This month saw the start of a massive campaign in support of comprehensive immigration legislation. Zuckerberg recently revealed to members of Congress his plan to spend $50 million on advertising in support of those members who are with him on immigration, and to light a fire under those who haven't yet committed themselves. Rallies and nationwide television ads will lead up to an Oct. 28 business summit in Washington, D.C., with hundreds of business leaders anticipated to take part.

The strategy behind all these efforts, according to Jeremy Robbins, Bloomberg's policy adviser and director of Bloomberg's Partnership for a New American Economy coalition, is to target the most difficult votes to get, not the easiest. The way to move House Speaker John Boehner, Robbins says, is to "move the representatives he is most responsive to."

There are some 40 House Republicans considered influential in the House's conservative wing, part of an increasingly conservative freshman and sophomore class who are also flexible on immigration, due to their districts' being home to agriculture, tech, and manufacturing sectors. Included among those representatives are South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdey, who chairs the House's immigration subcommittee and North Carolina Reps. Renee Ellmers, Richard Hudson and George Holding.

Zuckerberg and Bloomberg's strategy might well prove to be successful. Rep. Ellmers, serving her second term, last year opposed an executive order by the President blocking the deportation of undocumented youth, but has made an about-face and is now supporting immigration overhaul. Doing nothing, she said, will harm North Carolina's farmers and its high-tech and hospitality sectors.

Source:, "Immigration Reform Resurfaces" Franco Ordonez, Oct. 09, 2013

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