Tech companies are keeping up the push for immigration reform as the political calendar closes in on the midterm elections.
In coming months, advocates plan to convince House Republican lawmakers that the issue is not a political liability when voters head to the polls. And for proof, they are pointing to recent primary elections where Republicans who went out on a limb in favor of reform were rewarded.
“If I were someone who was a little nervous about this issue, I would look back at our primaries and be heartened by what’s happened,” said Rob Jesmer, the campaign manager with FWD.us and a former executive director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The group, linked to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and other major Silicon Valley executives, has been one of the most visible supporters of immigration reform from the tech sector. They plan to push on with a string of ads and outreach through the summer.
“We’ll continue running ads, boosting our grassroots advocacy among members of the tech community, and working with a broad coalition of pro-reform allies ahead of the midterms,” added Kate Hansen, FWD.us’s communications director.
Other organizations are also planning efforts to convince GOP lawmakers that the climate is safe for them to come out on the issue.
“There are a lot of times to get this done if we can get the politics right,” said Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the Partnership for a New American Economy. “So we are very aggressively and optimistically pushing for that.”
Robbins’s group represents more than 500 mayors and corporate executives, including tech leaders like Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
Last month’s primary in Texas, he said, was a prime example of how support for immigration reform won’t hurt Republicans at the polls.
Two lawmakers, Reps. John Carter (R-Texas) and Sam Johnson (R-Texas) were actively willing to engage on immigration as part of a House working group, which could have exposed them to heat from the right.
Instead, Carter went unchallenged in the primary. Johnson handily beat his opponents with 80 percent of the vote.
Both Republicans dropped out of the working group earlier this year, saying they couldn’t trust President Obama to effectively enforce the laws, and would not be able to engage until they could.