With August recess putting a halt on congressional action on an immigration reform that would provide the pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented workers, various leading organizations — including the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and Fwd.us, a reform advocacy group for the tech industry, have released advertising campaigns that urge for bipartisan support of the legislation.
Nationwide ad campaigns that support the overhaul of the U.S. immigration law are growing. NAM, a longtime proponent of the bill, has launched a significant radio ad buy as part of a larger effort to educate the public on the impact of immigration reform. If passed, in five years, at least 120,000 green cards will be awarded to foreign-born inhabitants and their families, based on a merit system of skills, education, and years spent living in the U.S.
The new national radio ads, which are airing in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin media markets, encourage the public to call on Congress to pass the legislation.
NAM and other industry leaders contend that the immigration reform that would give legal status to both high-skilled and low-skilled foreign workers would fill the significant talent shortage and help alleviate the skills gap in manufacturing. In a letter to the Senate last month, NAM and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is composed of 2.1 million members from various industries, noted that while the bill is not perfect, immigration reform is a key component to the success of the American economy. In the letter, they call for an immigration system that encourages “industriousness” and an “entrepreneurial spirit.”
The tech industry has been largely divided over immigration reform due to controversy over companies importing low-wage immigrant IT workers instead of hiring U.S. workers. Yet some industry members have also rolled out recent advertising in support of the reform. A new ad launched by the controversial group Fwd.us, which was founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other key leaders in the tech industry, calls for comprehensive immigration and education system overhauls that allow tech companies to hire the best and the brightest.
The advertising announcement comes shortly after Zuckerberg’s July Q2 2013 earnings call, where he emphasized that America is failing in educating enough science, tech, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent. He noted that there has been a systemic issue that prevents the country from producing the volume of engineers that companies like his need.
The pro-reform ad, launched by Zuckerberg, chronicles the life of Alejandro Morales, an illegal immigrant who came to the U.S. as an infant. Due to his undocumented status, he is unable to join and serve in the Marine Corps and give back to the community. The Fwd.us website explains that the young immigrant’s story is not unique, but a reflection of a “broken immigration system.”
“Undocumented immigrants already contributing to our communities want to be recognized as Americans, and want the opportunity to continue to serve our country and contribute to its success – as members of the armed forces, as teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs and business owners, and in many other capacities,” the site presents. “We hope that by showing Americans the cost of this broken system and the contributions people like Alejandro are already making, they will join with us in supporting real reform.”
Both the Democratic and Republican parties have invested millions for pro-reform and opposition ads. Citing data from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, the Los Angeles Times reported $2.4 million was spent on supportive ad campaigning, and opponent ads totaled $700,000, during the first half of this year.
For more on what the immigration reform means for the manufacturing and tech industries, see our previous coverage here.