Immigration Lobbying Near Record Level as Trump Administration Aims for Overhaul

As the Trump administration tries to change the U.S. immigration system, lobbying on immigration issues has ramped up to a near-record level.

The number of companies, trade groups or other organizations that disclosed efforts to influence Washington on immigration matters reached 646 last year — just below 2013’s all-time high of 647.

And this year, 428 organizations reported immigration-related lobbying in the first quarter alone, suggesting 2019 could deliver a new record.

The heightened activity is shown in the adjacent chart, which draws on disclosures analyzed by OpenSecrets.org, a website tracking money in politics that’s run by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The hundreds of enterprises that have disclosed immigration-related lobbying in recent months range from the Crawfish Processors Alliance to a Long Island nursing home, as well as from landscaping company BrightView Holdings Inc.BV, -1.65%  to well-known tech companies such as Microsoft Corp. MSFT, -1.17% and Facebook Inc. FB, -2.40%  , which are often working on matters affecting skilled workers.

Facebook said in a first-quarter disclosure that its lobbying on immigration involves pushing for comprehensive reform of the immigration system, including advocating for temporary visas for tech workers and employment-based permanent residency. The social-media giant also reported lobbying on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, an Obama-era program protecting young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Microsoft disclosed a similar focus with its first-quarter report, saying it has lobbied on highly skilled immigrants and DACA.

The disclosures from the Louisiana-based crawfish group and Pennsylvania-based BrightView show they hired lobbyists to push for more H-2B visas, which are permits for seasonal foreign workers. The nursing home — the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Southampton, N.Y. — reported that it hired a lobbying firm to “secure a meeting with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines to discuss problems nurses that have been hired in the Philippines are having getting visas to travel to the U.S. and work.” The three enterprises have spent a relatively modest amount overall on lobbying in Washington so far this year — between $15,000 and $20,000 each, well below Microsoft’s $2.8 million spent on all lobbying and Facebook’s $3.4 million.

By Victor Reklaitis for MARKET WATCH

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