Bloomberg and Murdoch: Support CIR, Support Our Economy

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NewsCorp Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch, teamed up last week at a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, testifying in support of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The hearing was on the role of immigration in strengthening America’s economy.

According to news reports, Bloomberg and Murdoch heartily agreed that economic rationality should drive our immigration policy, not partisan politics. Both agreed that immigration reform should provide a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented people now living within our borders. (See Written Testimony of Rupert Murdoch, PDF 126KB, 30.Sep.2010 and Written Testimony of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, PDF 13.1KB, 30.Sep.2010.)

In his prepared remarks, Mayor Bloomberg called on Congress to fix “our broken system of immigration,” which he said is “undermining our economy, slowing our recovery, and hurting millions of Americans.” Bloomberg said New York City’s experience proves that immigration is good for the economy: “…since 1990, cities with the largest increase in immigrant workers have had the fastest economic growth. New York City is a perfect example. Immigrants have been essential to our economic growth, in every industry. Immigrants are a big reason why New York City has weathered the national recession better than the country as a whole; this year, we account for one in every ten private sector jobs created throughout the entire nation.” Mayor Bloomberg enumerated many other benefits of an immigrant-friendly economy: that immigrants pay more in taxes than they use in benefits, that they support Social Security, create new businesses, bring valuable skills and entrepreneurial drive, adding that “a path to legal status will add billions to our GDP in the coming decade.”

In his written testimony, Mr. Murdoch discussed the need to secure America’s borders, but dismissed as “nonsense” the suggestion that we could afford to expel illegal immigrants, calling this “impractical” and “cost prohibitive.” “Our border security,” Murdoch said, “must also be matched with efforts to make sure employers can’t hire illegal immigrants.” Instead of focusing so heavily on enforcement, Murdoch argued, we should provide “a full path to legalization – requiring unauthorized immigrants to register, undergo a security check, pay taxes, and learn English – would bring these immigrants out of a shadow economy and add to our tax base,” potentially adding as much as $1.5 billion to our GDP over ten years, according to a study he cited.

Murdoch was equally adamant that our immigration system needs to be more responsive to business needs, to provide the human capital necessary to maintain our competitive edge:

“America is desperately in need of improving our country’s human capital. We want to bring an end to the arbitrary immigration and visa quotas that make it impossible to fill the labor and skills needs of our country. We hope to return to an America that is a magnet for many of the best young brains in the world. In higher education, for example, America needs to keep her door open to those who come here to get an advanced degree – and then allow them to join the ranks of our most productive scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators and educators. What we have now is silly and self-defeating. We attract some of the world’s smartest people to our shores, give them the best that American higher education can offer – and then put them on planes back to their own countries. That has to stop. We need to make it easier for them to stay, so they can make their contributions to America.”

Murdoch pointed to the number of Silicon Valley tech start-ups that were founded by immigrants – more than half – which, taken together, have created “hundreds of thousands of new American jobs.”

Extremely well said, but as Rep. Maxine Waters pointed out, it was 180 degrees removed from the usual anti-immigrant slant of Mr. Murdoch’s own Fox News Channel. (See Rupert Murdoch, Owner of Fox News, Argues for Immigration Reform, by John R. Parkinson, ABC News, The Note, 30.Sep.2010.) Mayor Bloomberg, for his part, has been beating the drum for immigration reform for the past several months. Let us hope Messrs. Bloomberg and Murdoch will continue their advocacy for sensible immigration reform until Congress finally takes the necessary action.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.