Sen. Robert Menendez: CEOs Must Pressure Amnesty Opponents

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) attends a news conference on drilling for oil in the Atlantic Ocean April 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Senators introduced the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling Act, which would prohibit the US Department of Interior from issuing leases for the exploration, development or …
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s pro-migration amnesty bill cannot pass Congress unless business leaders actively pressure and police both politicians and media outlets, says Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who is leading the Senate push.

“Let me close by saying to my friends in the business community: We need you to give it everything that you’ve got,” Menendez told amnesty advocates Thursday, January 21. He continued:

We need you to make it clear through your words and your actions — and your dollars — that you will not lend your support to politicians or platforms that stoke fear, spread xenophobia, and stymie prospects for reform.

For example, Menendez said business leaders should suppress any mention of the “amnesty” term during the public debates over the amnesty bill:

It will take the business community making it very clear that they really want to see immigration reform [by showing] that it’s not Item Number 10 in a list of 10 initiatives, [but] that it’s up there on [Item] One or Two. Also it will take the business community to make it very clear — as they are saying that this [amnesty] is a priority — that they’re not going to allow those who will call any reform [an] amnesty from the get-go …

I know I have some [Senate] colleagues that if 10 angels came soaring from above [to declare] that [this] reform is not an amnesty, that they would still say, “Oh, we don’t agree with the 10 angels: It’s amnesty.” Well, we can never proselytize those individuals. But for those who are open-minded and believe they have ideas about what immigration reform should be, what it looks like, what it should include … We have an open door.

Most media outlets already bar their reporters from using amnesty in articles about immigration amnesties. For example, the Associated Press’s January 20 report described the amnesty as “an immigration bill that would give legal status and a path to citizenship to anyone in the United States before Jan. 1.”

Menendez spoke at a video teleconference hosted by the American Business Immigration Coalition.

The amnesty bill would provide citizenship to at least 11 million illegal migrants — and also accelerate the inflow of foreign blue-collar and white-collar workers into Americans’ jobs. In fact, the bill would allow an uncapped, unlimited, and open-ended inflow of foreign graduates into the jobs, careers, and homes needed by American graduates. The flood of cheap labor and government-aided consumers would spike profits and real estate value, so boosting Wall Street investors at the expense of American wage-earners.

Support and pressure from business leaders are not enough to get the bill passed, Menendez said. “We need to have, not just the business community, but our faith leadership and our advocacy groups collectively speaking strategically to everyone.”

Menendez insisted the amnesty is popular among voters, even he listed all the benefits that special interest groups can get. But he also insisted that the groups hang together and not make private deals for their own benefit:

We need to make the case to the American people, although in poll after poll we see when the question is raised, we see a majority of Americans in support of reform. But we need to heighten that.

We need to strategize and look at these different sectors of the economy that will be helped by reform. Who do they represent? For example, when we talk about farmworkers, [the] growers should be big advocates of immigration reform. And most growers happen to be Republican. We need for them to put their effort into the overall [amnesty] reform effort. We need the high-tech community who will benefit from the reforms we are proposing, to be an advocate of the overall [amnesty] reform movement.

The bill will not pass unless the president gets involved, he suggested: “We all need the president to call in members to make the case, to hear their views, and to embrace some of them.”

Menendez suggested — but did not say — that Biden will push hard for the amnesty bill:

When I had discussions with the incoming Biden administration about immigration reform going back to when the President called me to support him last year. This was one of the first questions that I asked him, “How serious are you about immigration reform?” And I believe he is very serious.

It makes a difference when you have leadership in the White House who will put political capital on the table to try to make things happen. The President has many leavers whether or not he uses them has been the question in the past. For the most part, they haven’t been really used. I believe he will. …  If I thought that this was just a messaging bill that was going to go absolutely nowhere, then I wouldn’t have lent my name to it. I don’t have the time to spend on a messaging Bill and I don’t want to be a messenger of something that isn’t going to happen.

The bill also needs at least ten of 50 GOP senators, he admitted:

We will need, beyond Democrats, we will need Republicans to come to this with a different spirit, that every legitimate effort for reform is not amnesty. Now for those who want to use it as a way to pursue their political [GOP] aspirations I can’t overcome that.

He repeatedly told his supporters that the bill is facing an uphill battle:

This will be tough. I’m not Pollyanna about this. I have been in the Congress, between the House and the Senate for 29 years. I understand how the process works in both institutions, and it will take a lot of hard work.

The underlying problem for Democrats is that the bill is deeply unpopular because Americans are growing more worried about their wages, their children’s’ futures, their fragmenting communities, and the increasing consolidation of wealth and power in a small, self-selecting elite.

The vast majority of Americans tell pollsters that the federal government should ensure Americans have decent jobs before allowing companies to import more foreign workers.

The polls show Americans’ deep and broad opposition to cheap labor migration and the inflow of temporary contract workers into the jobs needed by young and old Americans.

The multi-racialcross-sexnon-racistclass-based opposition to cheap labor migration co-exists with generally favorable personal feelings toward legal immigrants and toward immigration in theory — despite the media magnification of many skewed polls and articles that still push the 1950’s “Nation of Immigrants” claim.

The public’s preference for civic solidarity is decent and rational. Migration moves money from employees to employers, from families to investors, from young to old, from children to their parents, from homebuyers to real estate investors, and from the central states to the coastal states.


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