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CEOs seek changed immigration policy

Join mayors in stressing benefit to the economy

By Sara Kugler Frazier
Associated Press / June 25, 2010

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NEW YORK — Chief executives of several major corporations, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Disney, and News Corp., are joining New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form a coalition advocating for changes to US immigration policy — including a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants now in the United States.

The group includes several other big-city mayors and calls itself the Partnership for a New American Economy. It seeks to reframe immigration reform as the solution to repairing and stimulating the economy.

Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corp., appeared together yesterday on Fox News to discuss the effort.

“We’re just going to keep the pressure on the congressmen,’’ Murdoch said. “I think we can show to the public the benefits of having migrants and the jobs that go with them.’’

Bloomberg said, “Somebody has to lead and explain to the country why this is in our interest.’’

In statements yesterday, the chief executives said that their companies — and the nation — depend on immigrants.

“It’s our great strength as a nation, and it’s also critical for continued economic growth,’’ said Robert Iger, Walt Disney Co. chief executive. “To remain competitive in the 21st century, we need effective immigration reform that invites people to contribute to our shared success by building their own American dream.’’

The group says it intends to make its point to policymakers by “publishing studies, conducting polls, convening forums, and sponsoring public education campaigns.’’

The tactics are similar to those used by Bloomberg’s coalition of mayors who support gun control.

Bloomberg has for years criticized the federal government for its immigration laws, proposing in 2006 a plan that would have established a DNA or fingerprint database to track and verify all legal US workers.

He has recently taken up the fight again, declaring this week that US immigration policy “is national suicide.’’

“If you want to solve the unemployment problem in America, you have to open the doors to immigrants who will come here, create businesses, because when the tide comes in, everybody’s boat rises,’’ Bloomberg told reporters yesterday. “We need more immigrants, not less.’’

William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee, which supports strict immigration laws, called the chief executives “traitors’’ and said he and his supporters are discussing a possible boycott of the companies involved.

“What is it with these billionaires who want to betray Americans that have made them who they are?’’ Gheen said. “This country club doesn’t seem to care about anything but their money and power.

“Millions of Americans are unemployed and underemployed, and they want to turn millions of illegals into voters.’’