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Old 01-25-2006, 12:53 PM
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Post Part IV - What is lobbying and how will it affect the Immigration Bill?

What is lobbying and is it legal?
As per the definition at Wikipedia, Lobbying is the practice of private advocacy with the goal of influencing a governing body by promoting a point of view that is conducive to an individual's or organization's goals. more information can be found here

It is 100% legal and is in fact the preferred way of getting things done by most corporations. Corporations like Microsoft, Dell, Yahoo, Google etc have all used lobbying in the past and in fact I would go as far as saying that every Fortune 1000 firm has used lobbying at one point of time or another. Just search for any company name and the word lobbying on Google and you'll see what we are talking about

What has lobbying got to do with the Immigration Bill?

As we know from part III, Senator Specter will be creating a markup of the Senate Immigration Bill. This may/may not contain the provisions that the immigrant community is looking for.

The differennt bills that are being considered for the markup are McCain Kennedy bill, Cornyn Kyl bill, the Chuck Hagel Bill and a few others

This document by AILA compares the various versions of the bill in different categories This also considers a markup of Senator Specter which is unofficial at the moment. This means that until it gets officially presented to the Judiciary Committee for review, it could change anytime.

This markup already seems to contain the provisions we need, what are we still worried about?

If you have read my post on S.1932, you would know that a bill can be amended at multiple stages.

1) Senator Specter could change his markup, after all he has not come out with an official version. Do not forget that the link above refers to an unofficial version of the markup. As per unconfirmed reports, the Chairman's markup could be out anytime between now and mid-march and a lot of things could change in the mean time

2) Assuming that the markup does contain the provisions that we as immigrants are fighting for, any judiciary committee member can propose an amendment to the bill which could result in a an unwanted change. A case in point is the amendment that Senator Diane Feinstein proposed during S.1932 which reduced the increase in H1B visas from 60,000 to 30,000. Imagine if a senator brings in an amendment that strips off all the provisions for legal immigration!

3) If the bill does not have strong support within the Judiciary committee, it could be voted out and it becomes history

4) Assuming that the bill passes through the above steps, it is presented to the full Senate for a debate and vote. Here too any member of the senate can propose an amendment to the bill and the house votes on it. A case in point is the Byrd Amendment which was introduced by Senate Byrd from Virginia which sought to drop sections 8001 and 8002 from the S.1932. This was defeated by the a margin of 84-15 but remember that if it had enough support, S.1932 would have ended here

5) Once the bill passes with the immigration provisions in the Senate, it is presented to a joint conference committee where a few senators and a few congressmen deliberate on which sections to include int he conference bill from among the House bill and the Senate bill. Remember that the house bill has already been passed (HR.4437) and it does not contain any immigration provisions. The House members could again force the senate representatives to drop the immigration provisions. The S.1932 bill's pro-immigration sections got dropped precisely at this juncture

So as can be seen, there are various stumbling blocks towards achieving a favorable bill.

The only way we can ensure that the pro-immigrant provisions do not get ignored or sacrificed is by lobbying. By lobbying we can ensure that the right folks at the right places can understand our concern and empathize with us.

A lobbying firm can ensure that we send a consistent and effective message to the right people. As mentioned earlier, some of the lobbying firms have ex-Congressmen and ex-Senators on their boards. These folks have a great working relationship with the current senators and congressmen. These lobbyists can not only get our issues be heard by the powers, they can possibly influence them by using some political capital

Why can't we just contact the lawmakers directly and tell them about it? Why spend money for lobbyists?

We can definitely try doing this ourselves. This is a free country and nothing stops us from doing so. Unfortunately the effectiveness of such a method is questionable.

During S.1932 proceedings, many members of this forum contacted their local congressmen and senators and asked for appointments. Many also conveyed their views to the staff and many also faxed their views in. Unfortunately the bill passed without the pro-immigration provisions. The message was not conveyed strongly enough and it was conveyed as individuals and not a group.

It was realized that unless we present our case the way Washington, DC is used to seeing it (by hiring lobbyists), the message will not get through.

Lobbyists have direct access to the actual congressmen and senators while the most we can hope is getting a key staff member's attention.

A lobbyist can influence a house member, while we can only hope that the staff members pass our views to the house member.

We do not know which members are really the ones to target and key decision makers and we might end up concentrating on the wrong house members. A lobbyist can help us identify these key members.

All in all, a lobbyist can help us use our energy in the right way and not end up wasting it doing frivolous things and ultimately help us achieve our dreams

And do not forget that some of the anti-immigration groups like numbersusa already have full time lobbyists working for them in DC. If we are to even put up a decent fight against these very dedicated anti-immigrant forces, we need to get help from a professional lobbying firm

Last edited by ragz4u; 01-25-2006 at 01:52 PM.
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