Yesterday, the Bay Area Houston blog noted that top Texas donors of the GOP appear to have an immigration stance that runs directly counter to the one held by the Republican Party. Nonetheless, they continue pouring thousands upon thousands of dollars into funding candidates who fight for nativist immigration policies that run counter to their business interests. The Dallas Morning News recently ran an op-ed jointly authored by over 30 Texas businessmen making the case for why “Americans must face up to the reality of the foreign workers we need to keep the economy growing”:
We own and run a variety of businesses: agriculture, food processing, hospitality, construction, banking and more, mostly but not exclusively in Texas. And we know, if not firsthand, certainly at close reach, just how much the economy depends on immigrant labor. [...]
As chairmen, CEOs and stockholders, we call on Congress to act – to go back to Washington and pass realistic immigration reform that provides the workers we need to keep our businesses growing. [...] Neither the immigrants here today nor those we will need in the future should have to live in the shadows. These are good people with good values doing work that we need done, reaching for the American Dream and helping make it a reality for all. As we value the work, let us value the worker – and let’s fix the law so that it serves all Americans.
However, despite calling on Congress to “pass realistic immigration reform,” many of those wealthy Texas businessmen have donated thousands of dollars to a party that hasn’t only blocked any chance of comprehensive immigration reform, it’s also actively working to pass anti-immigrant, restrictionist policies that will make it even harder for them to do business. In all fairness, many of the businessmen donated funds to pro-immigrant Democrats as well — however those donations paled in comparison. Instead, many of them helped get several Republican candidates get elected and continue supporting the GOP throughout 2010, despite it’s swing to the far right on immigration.
Bob Perry of Perry Homes tops the list with $134,600 in the year 2010 alone. Over $65,000 of Perry’s money went directly to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which presumably provides strategic support to Republican senators who have done nothing but stall and obstruct Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) efforts to propose and enact comprehensive immigration reform. An additional thousand dollars went to Sen. David Vitter’s (R-LA) campaign, despite the fact that he recently tried to block federal funding of the Justice Department’s lawsuit against SB-1070 and “led the assault” on immigration reform in 2007.
Similarly, Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group and co-founder of Clear Channel Communications has donated a total of $10,000 to the NRSC. However, McCombs most shocking contribution was to immigration zealot Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Woody Hunt of Hunt Construction has donated $60,800 to the NRSC this year as of April 2010. Hunt also donated almost $10,000 to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who recently accused President Obama of “pandering to Hispanics” by “pretending” he’s going to do something about immigration. Bob Barnes, chief executive of Schlotzsky’s restaurant chain, donated $15,000 to the NRSC in March 2010 and an additional $15,000 to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who has firmly refused to work with Democrats on immigration reform.
Ultimately, it’s probably safe to say that these Texas businessmen represent just a small cross section of a business executives who advocate for and profit from sensible immigration policies while simultaneously funding a party with an immigration platform based in xenophobic pandering and nativist fear-mongering. While the Republican Party certainly defends other corporate interests, it seems that if corporate America really prioritizes immigration reform — one of the hot button issues of this election season — it would start putting its money where its mouth is. As long as the money rolls in and the cheap political points are scored, lawmakers will continue to deny businesses and the American people of the immigration reform the country needs.