This past year has been a busy one for the Partnership for a New American Economy. Our research arm produced a dozen research reports and more than 40 polls. Our field operation engaged business leaders, conservatives, faith leaders, donors, and other influential leaders in 67 congressional districts across more than two-dozen states. And our new immigrant integration initiative helped communities all throughout the country enact projects and programming to leverage the local economic growth potential of immigration.
Take a look at some of the highlights from this past year below.
1. The Partnership Mobilizes Support in States Across the Country
The Partnership for a New American Economy continued to take the immigration reform fight to the states in 2014 with a field operation that spanned 26 states and 67 congressional districts. The Partnership’s team of field organizers mobilized prominent business, political, agriculture, tech, faith, and other leaders in key districts to speak out in favor of immigration reform – at events, in the press, and in meetings with their legislators. The Partnership generated 249 direct contacts with legislators and more than 1,700 stories in local and national media outlets around the country, including 90 op-eds and 14 editorials in leading local papers.
2. The Partnership Educates Members of Congress on the Critical Need for Immigration Reform
As the immigration debate shifted from the Senate to the House, the Partnership met with key representatives on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of immigration reform. Throughout the year, the Partnership joined with groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the American Farm Bureau; the Business Roundtable; the National Association of Manufacturers; Americans for Tax Reform; FWD.us; Bibles, Badges, and Business; Western Growers; the Agriculture Workforce Coalition; TechNet; and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to organize briefings and events with congressional staff on the need for immigration reform across industries, including agriculture, business, manufacturing, and tech. The Partnership also held more than 130 Capitol Hill office visits and, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a multi-industry letter signed by 636 business leaders to Speaker Boehner urging the House to act on immigration reform.
3. The Partnership Works with Cities Across the Country on Local Immigrant Integration Efforts
The Partnership worked with Atlanta, Nashville, and Minneapolis, among other cities, on local immigrant integration efforts, building a new network of advocates, and moving this issue forward at the local level. The Partnership released a research brief highlighting the contributions of immigrants in Atlanta in conjunction with Mayor Kasim Reed’s announcement of 20 new recommendations that Atlanta will implement, including the creation of an Office of Multicultural Affairs, as well as a research brief on the contributions of immigrants in Nashville to complement Mayor Carl Dean’s launch of a Nashville Office of New Americans. In October, the Partnership, the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition, and the Americas Society/Council of the Americas met with political and business leaders in Minneapolis to discuss potential immigrant integration initiatives and released a new report highlighting the important role that Minnesota’s foreign-born population plays in the state’s economy.
4. The Partnership Produces New Research Showing the Economic and Political Case for Immigration Reform and the Cost of Legislative Inaction
In 2014, Partnership research focused on the economic need for immigration reform in sectors across the economy and the political imperative amidst changing demographics. The Partnership’s first report of the year, released in March, looked at the agriculture industry and found that the United States is now importing an increasing percentage of its fresh produce, in substantial part because U.S. farmers lack sufficient labor to harvest their crops. The report was featured in the New York Times article, “California Farmers Short of Labor, and Patience.”
Throughout the year, the Partnership released 11 more pieces of research, including a report highlighting the need for immigration reform to fill less-skilled labor gaps, a report on the negative impact of H-1B visa denials on U.S. tech sector growth, and a study showing how more inclusive tourist visa laws would generate American revenue and jobs. These reports received hundreds of media mentions, and U.S. News & World Report referred to the less-skilled labor report as “yet another signal that the business community is not giving up on its push to get immigration reform moving again on Capitol Hill.”
The Partnership also focused its research efforts on the role of immigrants as entrepreneurs and contributors to U.S. economic growth. In April, the Partnership released a report on the rising rates of Hispanic entrepreneurship, finding that Hispanic immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs than the average member of the U.S. population. The Partnership also released a report highlighting immigrants’ contributions to the Medicare program, leading to the Washington Post article, “Why immigrants are the best thing that happened to Medicare,” as well as a report highlighting the important role that native and foreign-born Hispanics play as consumers and taxpayers.
5. The Partnership Brings Conservative Champions to the Table
The Partnership, with Americans for Tax Reform, launched a media call series, Call for Reform, featuring conservative leaders calling on Congress to pass immigration reform and moderated by Grover Norquist. The first call included Sal Russo, co-founder of the Tea Party Express, announcing his support for immigration reform, and it generated more than 430 media mentions. Featured guests have also included Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and The Latino Coalition chairman Hector Barreto.
In November, just before President Obama announced his executive actions on immigration reform, the Partnership worked with The Washington Times to bring together affirmative ideas and policy proposals on immigration reform from a wide variety of conservative leaders. The special section, “Immigration: Conservative and Economic Solutions to Act Now,” featured commentary from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY); Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI); former Florida governor Jeb Bush; president of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist; New Mexico governor Susana Martinez; Ben Carson; Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT); president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thomas J. Donohue; Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO); president of the Business Roundtable John Engler; president of the National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons; chairman of The Latino Coalition Hector Barreto and executive director of The LIBRE Initiative Daniel Garza; Bob Stallman, Chuck Conner, and the CEOs of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition; Alex Nowrasteh of the CATO Institute; The Washington Times editorial board; and a letter signed by more than 100 GOP donors in support of immigration reform. The section generated over 140 media mentions.
6. The Partnership Conducts Nearly 40 Polls Showing Political Space and Public Support for Immigration Reform
All of the Partnership’s polls showed broad support for reform across geographic, demographic, and ideological lines. For example, a July poll of voters in 26 states and nationally revealed that the proportion of voters who believe the U.S. immigration system is in need of fixing was at least 84 percent in every region of the country surveyed.
Several Partnership polls, including a March survey of Republican primary voters in three Texas congressional districts and a May survey of Republican primary voters in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District, showed that there is clear political space for legislative action. TIME reporter Zeke Miller covered the results, saying they “cut against Republican concerns that passing immigration reform will keep their base voters away from the polls this fall.”
In May, the Partnership released a poll with Americans for Tax Reform and the Tea Party Express revealing that an overwhelming majority of voters who identify with the Tea Party want immigration reform in 2014 and support a plan in line with Speaker Boehner’s January 2014 immigration reform standards. In the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote, “This latest coalition gives further encouragement to House Republicans that they can move ahead on a critical issue with the support of some old and new uber-conservative groups.”
7. The Partnership Launches the #iAmImmigration Campaign, Featuring Immigration Reform Supporters from Sectors Across the Economy
In January, the Partnership launched the #iAmImmigration campaign to highlight industries across the economy where immigrants play a critical role and immigration reform is desperately needed. #iAmImmigration kicked off with an immigration summit featuring former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, former secretary of commerce Carlos Gutierrez, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce senior vice president Randel Johnson. The New York Times noted that the immigration summit was Mr. Bloomberg’s first public policy event since stepping down as mayor.
#iAmImmigration included three complementary campaigns – the #iFarmImmigration campaign for agriculture, the #iBuildImmigration campaign for business and manufacturing, and the #iCodeImmigration campaign for tech. The Partnership coordinated each campaign with the release of research and ads, as well as on-the-ground initiatives, including Capitol Hill briefings, national and local events, and op-eds written by industry leaders. Key activities included a meeting between Ohio farmers and Speaker Boehner in March and a nine-city event series, Accelerate Immigration Reform, held at incubators and accelerators across the country in partnership with FWD.us.
8. The Partnership Coordinates an Ad Campaign on the Impact of Immigration and Visa Laws and Runs a Creative Ad Placement Campaign Across the Country
The Partnership’s first ad, released in April, showcases the role of immigrant inventors in creating the products and technologies that Americans depend on in their daily lives. The second ad, released in July, features Bernie Thiel, a Texas farmer who has had to destroy some of his own crops for two consecutive years because he has been unable to find the workers he needed to harvest. The third ad, released in December, demonstrates how smarter U.S. tourist visa laws would generate American revenue and jobs. The ads have played on television, online, in Washington, DC taxis and airports, at state fairs and rodeos, and in movie theaters in key Ccngressional districts across the country. The creative placement of the ads led to the New York Times article, “Another Avenue to Reach Policy Makers: Taxicabs.”
9. The Partnership Organizes a National Day of Action for Immigration Reform
The Partnership organized a National Day of Action for Immigration Reform among the country’s biggest business leaders in the wake of former representative Eric Cantor’s loss in May, which threatened to jeopardize momentum in the immigration reform debate. The Day of Action included a national press conference in Washington, DC and events in 62 key congressional districts across 25 states, featuring business leaders discussing the critical need for immigration reform to drive job creation and economic growth in the United States. Partners included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Business Roundtable, American Hort, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Western Growers Association, and the events generated over 400 media mentions.
10. The Partnership Establishes a Hispanic Engagement Campaign to Promote Conservative, Hispanic Voices for Immigration Reform
The Partnership, along with The Latino Coalition, The LIBRE Initiative, and the American Principles in Action Latino Partnership, launched a Hispanic Engagement campaign, focusing on the contributions of Hispanics across the country and the economic and political imperative for reform with an increasingly significant part of the electorate. The campaign kicked off with a new and growing coalition of 30 conservative Hispanic leaders in support of immigration reform and has so far included national and battleground state polling on Hispanic voters, research on the changing demographics in swing states, research on immigrants’ views on social issues, and research on Hispanic contributions as consumers and taxpayers. In 2015, it will include a series of ads produced with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce featuring profiles of Hispanic business leaders.