Feature

Rupert Murdoch is immigration reform's biggest booster, and obstacle

The Fox News owner wants Washington to pass immigration reform, but he's the one holding the keys

Rupert Murdoch, the octogenarian media baron, has long advocated reforming America's immigration laws. And he reiterated his pro-business pitch for comprehensive immigration reform legislation in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal — a newspaper he owns that broadly shares his views on the subject.

"One of the most immediate ways to revitalize our economy is by passing immigration reform," Murdoch wrote in his op-ed. He then takes on the conservative complaint about legal "amnesty" for illegal immigrants:

Is the idea of immigration reform complicated by the fact that some immigrants went outside the legal system to be here? Yes. It is complicated even more by the fear some Americans have, quite naturally, of how changing populations might also change our culture, communities and economic circumstances. Well, of course immigration means change. Immigrants enrich our culture and add to our economic prosperity. [Wall Street Journal]

Murdoch goes on to argue for allowing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already here, "so they can pay their full taxes, be counted, and become more productive members of our community." He criticizes both "richly funded unions" and "nativists who scream about amnesty." And he strongly urges Congress to show some leadership and get moving so that President Obama, who has "shown wise restraint despite pressure from the left to act," doesn't "feel tempted to act via executive order."

Here's the thing: Americans already broadly support comprehensive immigration reform, the Democratic-controlled Senate has already passed a bill, and Obama is eager to sign it. The bill hasn't, and may not, even come up for a vote in the GOP-led House. And Murdoch has more power to make that happen then just about anyone else, including the president. Because along with The Wall Street Journal, Murdoch's News Corp. owns Fox News.

According to a very large survey released this month by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Brookings Institution, Fox News viewers are the biggest opponents of immigration reform. These two charts do a pretty good job of telling the story:

Fox News watchers tend to vote in Republican primaries. If Murdoch wants immigration reform to pass, he should sit down and have a talk with Fox News' editorial pacesetter, Roger Ailes. If Ailes isn't willing to change the network's slant against immigration reform, Murdoch would send a pretty strong message by firing him.

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