Argues for urgent need for immigration reform.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: NewsCorp’s Rupert Murdoch has urged Congress to continue moving forward with immigration reform, saying that America’s economic future can only be ensured by providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and by eliminating the annual cap for H-1B visas.
In an Op-Ed piece published by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Murdoch implored Congress not to be dismayed by the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) stunning primary loss to Tea Party challenger David Brat, saying that although Cantor has been crucial in slowly shepherding immigration reform, his exit should not be taken as an excuse to just give up.
“That would be the wrong lesson and an undesirable national consequence of this single, local election result,” said Murdoch, who called comprehensive immigration reform “an urgent need.”
Murdoch speaks from a perspective of personal understanding, having gone through the immigration process himself in order to become a fully naturalized citizen of the US. Originally from Australia, Murdoch says he came to the US because of its entrepreneurial freedoms, which he still believes make this the most highly sought after destination for foreigners.
“I chose to come to America and become a citizen because America was â€” and remains â€” the most free and entrepreneurial nation in the world,” says Murdoch, in the piece. “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.”
To that end, Murdoch – a self-admitted Republican, which he says in the Journal piece – supports providing a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the US. Murdoch cautions that it’s important to screen these immigrants for criminal records, but as long as they are committed to being a productive part of the US economy, they should be allowed to stay.
Additionally, and perhaps most provocatively, Murdoch argues that the cap on H-1B visas should be removed, allowing more high-skilled workers to come to the US and eventually gain citizenship. Murdoch called the H-1B cap “arbitrary,” saying that it “results in U.S. companies struggling to find the high-skill workers they need to continue growing” and that increasing the cap will solve the problem of “[the] shortage of qualified American candidates.”
That statement, however, has been heavily disputed by those who point to statistics that say the US has twice has many STEM-field graduates than it does jobs available to them, and that the H-1B program is merely being exploited by tech firms and interest groups to keep salaries low and productivity high.
Murdoch praised President Barack Obama for seeking a bipartisan solution to immigration reform, lauding the fact that the President has not yet resorted to signing executive orders regarding certain provisions he feels are most important in this multi-faceted debate. But he urged Congress – specifically, Congressional Republicans in the House of Representatives – to move quickly on finding that bipartisan solution before Obama gets restless.
Murdoch has long been a mouthpiece for immigration reform; he is currently a ranking member of an immigration reform advocacy group known as the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE), which is comprised of more than 500 Republican, Democratic, and Independent politicians and business leaders.
PNAE members are â€œunited in making the economic case for streamlining, modernizing, and rationalizing our immigration system.â€ Its key members include former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, and Disney President Bob Iger.
Last week, the group released the results of a study which said that denying visa extensions for high-skilled workers has an overall negative impact on the domestic economy, and has been a major reason why the US recovery from the 2008 economic recession is so slow.