29 November 2009 ~ 0 Comments

Immigration Reform: Does Money Translate Into Influence?

The Associated Press reported this past weekend that pro-immigrant PACs were increasing in number and influence. Specifically, the fledgling Immigrants’ List and ImmigrationPAC raised $100,000 combined this election cycle while their enforcement-only counterparts have had a more difficult time getting donations.

Truth be told, this report does not hold up under scrutiny. Yes, Americans Against Illegal Immigration no longer seems to be a major player. But enforcement-only organizations such as ALIPAC, Team America, and the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps have raised in excess of $500000.  The economy has certainly affected fundraising and William Gheen at ALIPAC does pay himself 40-50% of PAC money, but it is erroneous to underestimate the comparative fundraising power of the network.

Some good news comes with knowing that pro-immigrant organizations have certainly received millions in grants in the recent past. But receiving large sums is one thing, while allocating expenditure in a way that yields maximum returns is another. It is unclear  what influence money will have on the politics and debate surrounding immigration reform at this time.

Coalition building probably plays a larger part in winning legislative action. Promigrant organizations have finally diversified ranks, and both labor and much of the business lobby stand squarely on the side of a reasonable immigration reform that grants a pathway to citizenship to certain undocumented immigrants though businesses might balk at e-verify. Given that fact, the only reliable ammunition for the anti-immigrant crowd is still blocking fax lines and making angry calls. And this is where the pro-immigrant lobby has often failed in the past.

The 63% majority in favor of a pathway to citizenship must make those angry calls to Congress and make their voices heard through more than just faith gatherings, house parties and protests. And that does not require large sums of money but civic participation.

(Photo Credit: borman818’s photostream)

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