About Me

My photo
Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Politicization of Jobs's Widow

By Michelle Quinn
December 17, 2012

Immigration reform has a fierce new ally: the wealthiest woman in Silicon Valley.

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, has made helping undocumented children get on a path to citizenship her cause, swinging through Washington to meet with lawmakers, including Sens. Marco Rubio and Dick Durbin, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, key players in a brewing battle over immigration reform.

The longtime supporter of liberal causes also has been raising her profile in Democratic circles. In September, she was spotted at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., sitting next to Chelsea Clinton during former President Bill Clinton’s speech. Last year, she sat next to Michelle Obama during the State of the Union address.

Powell Jobs plans to continue her pressure campaign in 2013, urging politicians and business leaders to help undocumented kids. That’s good news for supporters of immigration reform, including the White House, since immigration is expected to be the major policy fight next year.

“She is a great advocate for the DREAM Act,” said Durbin. The Illinois Democrat sponsored the failed bill to offer a path to citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. “She has not only brought friends and supporters to the cause, she has also done great research work on the issue.”

Friends say Powell Jobs became aware of the issues undocumented children face through her work with College Track, an after-school, college preparatory program she co-founded and for which she has tutored kids.

“She found the flaw in the system,” said Ron Conway, a friend and prominent Silicon Valley investor. “It’s the logical extension of the work she is doing. There needs to be a neutral third-party catalyst to say these kids have a right to success. And what better person than Laurene Powell Jobs.”

During a late November trip to the Hill, Powell Jobs met with Durbin and McCarthy, the House Republican whip. Her goal, they said, is to help create bipartisan support for the DREAM Act, which would give eligible young people a six-year path to citizenship.

Durbin has introduced the DREAM Act in every Congress since 2001 and plans to do so again next year.

McCarthy’s office confirmed the meeting and said it is part of Powell Jobs’s effort to create bipartisan support for the issue.

“She’s been an incredibly effective advocate and thoroughly savvy on politics and policy,” said Democratic lobbyist Joel Johnson of The Glover Park Group. The firm serves as an informal adviser to Powell Jobs. “I think it’s the beginning of the process. I know that she and [her nonprofit] are committed to being a part of that process and doing everything they can to advance the cause. She’s been engaged in this effort for many, many years, and we’re at about to enter a critical period in time.”

Powell Jobs declined to sit for an interview with POLITICO. A spokeswoman noted “how appreciative Laurene was for the time with those congressional Democrats and Republicans who recognize the important children’s issues represented by the DREAM Act.”

Powell Jobs is not widely recognizable, mostly shying away from the public glare.

She worked in investment banking and earned an MBA from Stanford University. And she started a natural foods firm, which she left in the late 1990s to focus on family, she told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2008. She has sat on nonprofit boards and launched two nonprofits, but she hasn’t hit the speaking circuit.

In the past decade, she was often spotted at her husband’s side at local Apple stores on days new products went on sale or walking hand in hand with him in their neighborhood during the last months of Jobs’s life. Steve Jobs, Apple’s visionary chief executive, died in October 2011.

She gave $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee last year. Her nonprofit contributed $150,000 to a recent failed ballot initiative in California to abolish the death penalty.

As the debate over immigration reform is expected to heat up next year, Powell Jobs is poised to play a bigger role in pushing Congress to enact legislative reforms.

In late November, she met with Durbin to discuss research she commissioned from Republican pollster Luntz Global about immigration.

Her memo on the issue, which has been circulating on the Hill, found that a majority of voters wanted a way to stop the flow of illegal immigrants to the U.S. and require those here to earn citizenship. Sixty-two percent of voters, including 57 percent of Republicans, support finding a path to citizenship for undocumented students. Twenty-four percent of voters believe illegal immigrants in the U.S. should be deported, the poll found.

In a POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll released this week, 62 percent support an immigration reform proposal with 35 percent opposing it. When it came to children of illegal or undocumented immigrants, the poll found 77 percent supported giving them a path to stay here permanently with 19 percent opposing.

Powell Jobs has suggested that the debate needs to be reframed to emphasize that the DREAM Act isn’t about giving handouts; it would require young people to earn citizenship through military service or getting a degree.

“She gave me a few tips from the research in how we describe the DREAM Act and its goals,” Durbin said. “I think that is very valuable to look at this concept through the eyes of who may be critical of it.”

In the new year, she is expected to be back in Washington, said those close to her, hoping to facilitate conversations between Democrats, Republicans and business leaders.

No comments: