New immigration reform is the hot legislative topic in Washington D.C. Already the pro-immigration reform lobby, along with their anti-reform opposition, have begun their respective offensives to ensure that their desired outcome of victory or defeat of the bill becomes reality on Capitol Hill. The pro-immigration reform side has gotten a powerful backer however. An influential Republican mega-donor, Paul Singer, has thrown down a six-figure donation to a pro-immigration reform group.
Singer marks the latest voice to put his money where his mouth is. In the immigration fight both sides of the debate expect to see quite a bit of lobbying dollars spent to get their voice heard on Capitol Hill. From individuals to companies, a huge chunk of money will be spent on pro- and anti-immigration reform groups and lobbying firms.
Singer is one of the Republican Party's top bundlers, a fundraiser who can gather donations from many people in an organization or community and have all of them be directed at a campaign or candidate. His six-figure donation went to the National Immigration Forum, a group that has had a focus on getting the support of business organizations, religious leaders, and law enforcement for immigration reform.
Singer is the latest in a push to convince the more conservative factions of the Republican Party to go along with the Gang of Eight’s immigration plan. Earlier in April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was diving into the immigration debate with a group of other technology executives. The group is known as FWD.us. It has created other affiliate groups to push certain strategies, such as convincing conservative Republican legislators in the immigration debate.
One of those groups, Americans for a Conservative Direction, began running ads in states such as Utah, targeting potential swing votes. The ads features featured Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Tea Party favorite, promoting the bill’s conservative values, such as tougher border security.
But other groups are gearing up to defeat the bill. The hope is for a repeat of history in 2007, where anti-immigration reform groups pressured Senate Republicans to defeat former President George W. Bush’s immigration reform proposal. Groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and NumbersUSA hope to launch a grassroots push to achieve similar results to the last attempt at immigration reform. FAIR has already launched a "Radio Row" of conservative talk show radio hosts blasting the Gang of Eight's immigration bill in April, and is likely to continue its offensive in conservative media.
Already the political maneuvering has started to have affects in Washington. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said that he has "guarded optimism" that immigration reform can garner 70 votes in the Senate, destroying any filibuster threat from anti-immigration politicians such as Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
The more conservative House of Representatives will be the next battleground if the Senate supports the bill. This is an area where the support of major figures such as Singer will be crucial to pick up the needed Republican votes in the House. In addition to his financial support of pro-immigration reform groups, Singer has much soft power in the powerful threat he wields in his status as a top fundraiser. If he considers immigration reform serious enough to pass at all costs, he could employ the nuclear weapon of threatening to withhold funding from bundling efforts to anti-immigration reform legislators. Singer raises funds for a number of rank-and-life members of Congress and the Senate.
As the battle lines are drawn and allies and enemies are recognized on both sides of the immigration debate, an interesting battle will play out on Capitol Hill. And although the future of the bill is up for debate, one thing is for sure. Both sides will spend quite a lot of money but there can only be one winner.