Republican Party

You Built That: Why the Conservative Base Will Ignore Rupert Murdoch’s Immigration Advice

Last updated on June 26th, 2014 at 12:05 am

When Rupert Murdoch becomes your voice of reason, you know you have officially gone off the deep end of an issue.

Congressional Republicans were hit by a truth bomb this past week, by the founder of Fox News of all people. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Murdoch, the current executive chairman of News Corp, called out the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for failing to act on an immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in June of 2013 by a margin of 68-32, a vote that included the support of 14 Republican senators. In his opinion piece, Murdoch wrote:

When I learned that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had lost his Republican primary, my heart sank. Not simply because I think he is an intelligent and talented member of Congress, or because I worry about the future of the Republican Party.

Like others who want comprehensive immigration reform, I worried that Mr. Cantor’s loss would be misconstrued and make Congress reluctant to tackle this urgent need. That would be the wrong lesson and an undesirable national consequence of this single, local election result.

People are looking for leadership—those who stand for something and offer a vision for how to take America forward and keep our nation economically competitive. One of the most immediate ways to revitalize our economy is by passing immigration reform.

I chose to come to America and become a citizen because America was, and remains, the most free and entrepreneurial nation in the world. Our history is defined by people whose character and culture have been shaped by ambition, imagination and hard work, bound together by a dream of a better life.

Is the idea of immigration reform complicated by the fact that some immigrants went outside the legal system to be here? Yes. It is complicated even more by the fear some Americans have, quite naturally, of how changing populations might also change our culture, communities and economic circumstances.

Well, of course immigration means change. Immigrants enrich our culture and add to our economic prosperity. The Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan group of political and business leaders, reports that people who moved here from abroad or their children founded more than 40% of America’s Fortune 500 companies — businesses that collectively employ millions of people. Do Americans really wish Google, eBay, Pfizer or Home Depot HD were headquartered in Eastern Europe or China instead of America? Whether it’s a high-profile tech company or a small business employing just 10 people, 28% of all new American businesses started in 2011 were founded by immigrants. Those are entrepreneurial people we want to continue to attract to our economy.”

Murdoch then offered three solutions to help enact meaningful immigration reform: A path to citizenship for all non-criminals living in the U.S., the removal of caps of H-1B visas, and heightened border security. The 2013 bill that currently sits in the House included all of these solutions as well as a new visa program for less-skilled workers. As an immigrant himself, Murdoch is attempting to show how enriched the country is when we offer immigrants a fair chance to earn citizenship and the opportunity to become entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, his pleas will inevitably fall on deaf ears.

They will fall of deaf ears because of the very network Murdoch started: Fox News. Murdoch’s network has been the mouthpiece for the Republican Party for the past two decades and it has taken a hardcore stance against any kind of immigration reform. This strategy was especially successful during the recession, as it is always easier to justify your xenophobia during tough financial times. However, now that the economy is recovering, the Fox News argument of “they’re taking our jobs” no longer applies. Now, the argument has become that these immigrants are dangerous and that any kind of amnesty will put our national security at risk.

Of course, that argument doesn’t hold water and yet it is one that the commentators and hosts on Murdoch’s very own network have bought hook, line and sinker. Not a day goes by when Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity, Erick Erickson or Ann Coulter make some kind of derogatory comment toward immigrants. Look no further than the recent Republican primary in Virginia where Eric Cantor was disposed because he “attempted to work with the president on immigration reform.” Not minding the fact that 72% of people in Cantor’s district want immigration reform, Fox News took the position and ran with it because it fit their anti-immigration stance nicely.

So with Fox News’ consummate xenophobia, why does Murdoch seem to care about immigration at all?

The answer is simple. If Republicans keep on their anti-immigration path they will lose the vote of Latinos, who are this country’s largest growing voting bloc. Without the Latino vote, Republicans will fail to win the White House in the foreseeable future and if Texas ever turns blue the party as a whole could cease to exist. If there is no Republican Party then Murdoch not only loses all his behind-the-scenes power but he also loses his beloved cash cow, the Fox News Channel. Murdoch needs the votes of immigrants to keep himself in business. It has nothing to do with the lives of undocumented immigrants who live in the shadows, or young foreign entrepreneurs looking for an opportunity, or a generation of students who wants to become citizens in the only country they have ever known. All it has to do with is Rupert Murdoch making money. And without the support of immigrants in the near future, that seems less and less likely to happen.

Maybe Murdoch should have thought of that before his network made the conscientious choice to alienate an entire generation of immigrants to score cheap political points.

Trevor LaFauci

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