His name is John Gay and at the moment he's the most feared man in Washington.
Politicians are so freaked out by Gay that a sizable segment of the Republican Party, including the president, is willing to risk the party's control of Congress after this fall's elections to keep him happy.
If Gay gets his way, within 15 years the GOP will have a hard time winning a presidential race again because the 60 million largely Hispanic immigrants Gay wants to bring to this country vote Democratic at least 60 percent of the time. Yet the GOP is still struggling to decide -- Gay or the future of the party?
The Democrats, not to be outdone, have included an identical version of the immigration legislation Gay's buddies wrote in their bills, too. That's because what John Gay wants, John Gay gets.
It's not that Gay is particularly powerful or fantastically wealthy in his own right. He's not. Technically speaking -- and I emphasize the word "technically" -- Gay is the head lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association, which is how most reporters on the Hill still identify him in print.
But it's his other "side" affiliations that have politicians so antsy. Simply put, on the Hill, Gay is the face of the most unholy political alliance ever created. Big oil, big tobacco and the entire defense industry could unite behind an issue and they couldn't touch this.
As the head of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), Gay represents a fearsome coalition of businesses. The depth and breadth of its membership and its member organizations' membership is such that if you attempted to boycott the businesses backing open borders and massive immigration, you'd have to go naked and stop eating.
EWIC is the immigration lobbying arm of the US Chamber of Commerce, which by itself represents more than 3 million businesses, hundreds of industry organizations and thousands of chambers of commerce. The Chamber's board is stacked with executives from BellSouth, the National Restaurant Association, Verizon, Nike, Pepsi, State Farm Insurance, Xerox, Dow Chemical -- and that's just a small sample.
EWIC's own membership list includes more than 40 of the most powerful industry groups in America, each of which represents the biggest names in every industry. Take just one EWIC member organization, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, for example.
Unofficially known as "Wal-Mart's baby," the NACDS board also includes execs from Rite Aid, Kroger, Walgreen, CVS, Eckerd and Kerr -- among two dozen others. The NACDS membership base operates more than 36,000 retail community pharmacies with annual sales totaling more than $650 billion and more than 1,000 suppliers of goods and services to chain community pharmacies.
And that's just one of EWIC's 48 member organizations. The others are just as daunting.
But EWIC and the Chamber are only one part of the centralized, highly organized immigration movement Gay and his bosses keep tightly under their thumbs. About six years ago, the EWIC crowd joined forces with a coalition of many of the former member organizations of the AFL-CIO, which together represent millions of workers and hope to capitalize on the new immigrant labor base.
Then there's the media side, which is run out of the National Immigration Forum, which, not-so-coincidentally, Gay also happens to chair. This coalition of immigrant rights, union, and Hispanic groups like La Raza and UNITE has been the face and the voice behind the immigration issue, the folks charged with making it look like this movement came out of the grassroots rather than the corporate boardrooms. So the organizing side brings together hundreds of thousands of bodies to march in the streets while the business cabal fronts the money, pays for the advertising and leads the lobbying effort on Capitol Hill. Brilliant.
When reporters interview the "immigration" side -- like La Raza -- and then scurry off to get quotes from the "Hispanic" and "business" sides, they probably don't realize that they are interviewing the same incestuous organized group of people all talking off the very same immigration talking points EWIC has been passing around Congress for years, the same set of talking points that many members of Congress use.
But don't let any of this fool you. This isn't about what's good for immigrants or the country. It's about what's good for business.
Gay's mission is to ensure that American business has an endless supply of low-skilled, exploitable labor. If he only succeeds in ramming a guest worker program through Congress, he will have failed, because legal workers have rights. Without wide open borders and a federal government that deliberately undermines its own border patrol, American business can't ensure a simultaneous inflow of illegals to depress wages and create a climate of fear among legal low-skilled immigrants that they will lose their jobs to illegals. That's why Gay's groups have given lip service to border security but have been violently opposed to anything that would actually accomplish it.
As Congress moves closer to an immigration bill, I watch and wonder: Will John Gay get his way?
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