For example, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld received $120,000 in 2012 from the Association to Invest in the USA, which wants to make permanent the EB-5 visa. That program, which allows foreigners to invest capital in American businesses in exchange for a green card, will expire in 2015.
Venable reported $90,000 of lobbying work from hotel chains Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide Inc. in the last three months of 2012 for the Visa Waiver Program reform, which allows citizens of selected countries to come to the United States for three months. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck registered to lobby for McDonald's Corp. restaurants in October, listing immigration as one of the issues. Brownstein also reported $230,000 in 2012 for EB-5 visa issues from CIM Group Inc., a real estate investment firm.
A KEY ISSUE
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing for immigration reforms as well, working to build a coalition with labor unions, faith organizations, ethnic groups and law enforcement. Chamber President Tom Donohue said in a "State of the American Business" address January 10 that the reforms should include securing the borders and a workable, reliable national employee-verification system.
The chamber's main lobbyist on the issue, Randy Johnson, said a bill would most likely start in the Senate. "The question will be: Will the House move on something that goes beyond enforcement that can be conferenced with a Senate bill?" he said.
Johnson said the tenor of his discussions on the Hill make him optimistic after a decade of working on immigration reforms.
"Key people in the House realize this is a key issue," Johnson said. "The election's part of it. I think there's a sense of let's get this done and get it behind us."
The comprehensive approach to immigration reform is akin to tax-code reform in terms of the dozens and dozens of industries affected, said Robert Raben, president of the Raben Group, which lobbies for the National Immigration Forum. Democrats have committed to move on the issue, which will in turn attract more lobbyists, he said.
Most companies and policy groups have been pushing for reforms for years, and already have a long-standing lobbying team in place, Raben said.
"Each [group] will have to have appropriate eyes and ears as this moves forward," Raben said. "Nobody has the crystal ball to see what the package will look like two to five months from now."
This article originally appeared in The National Law Journal.