US Economy
US billionaires Adelson, Buffett and Gates lambaste Congress on immigration inaction
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jul 11, 2014 - 1:33 AM

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President Barack Obama chairs a meeting with Texas officials in Dallas on the unaccompanied minors trying to cross the border from Central American countries into the US July 09, 2014. Governor Rick Perry is on left, top corner.

With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refusing to take action on immigration reform and after over 50,000 child migrants having crossed the southern United States border since late last year, the billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul who is a big Republican donor, has teamed up with fellow billionaires, Warren Buffett, America's best known investor, and Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, to lambaste Congress on immigration inaction.

In an op-ed in today's New York Times, they do not mince words:

AMERICAN citizens are paying 535 people to take care of the legislative needs of the country. We are getting shortchanged. Here’s an example: On June 10, an incumbent congressman in Virginia lost a primary election in which his opponent garnered only 36,105 votes. Immediately, many Washington legislators threw up their hands and declared that this one event would produce paralysis in the United States Congress for at least five months. In particular, they are telling us that immigration reform - - long overdue - - is now hopeless.

Americans deserve better than this."

CNN reports that it's only going to get worse unless Congress sanctions new funding, administration officials warned Thursday about the flood of Central American children illegally entering the United States from Mexico.

Jeh Johnson, Homeland Security secretary, told the Senate Appropriations Committee that $3.7bn in emergency funding requested by President Barack Obama anticipated up to 90,000 of the unaccompanied minors this fiscal year, which ends September 30, and another 145,000 in fiscal year 2015.

So far, the 57,000 who crossed the Texas border in the past nine months have overwhelmed the immigration system, causing overcrowded holding facilities and a huge backlog of cases awaiting hearings that can take years to schedule.

"Doing nothing is not an option," Johnson said, noting the increased demand for his department's services would cause US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to run out of money next month while Customs and Border Protection would burn through its annual funding by mid-September.

Last year the US Senate passed by a 68-32 vote a reform bill and the billionaires say they support the strengthening of border policing and the bill's "sensible plan that would have allowed illegal residents to obtain citizenship, though only after they had earned the right to do so."

They praised a provision of the Senate bill that would remove a cap on the number of work visas awarded to legal immigrants who got graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering or maths from a US university.

Most Americans believe that our country has a clear and present interest in enacting immigration legislation that is both humane to immigrants living here and a contribution to the well-being of our citizens. Reaching these goals is possible. Our present policy, however, fails badly on both counts.

We believe it borders on insanity to train intelligent and motivated people in our universities - - often subsidizing their education - -  and then to deport them when they graduate. Many of these people, of course, want to return to their home country - - and that’s fine. But for those who wish to stay and work in computer science or technology, fields badly in need of their services, let’s roll out the welcome mat."

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