Diary

Conservatives Beware of Immigration "Guru" Ron Hira.

Last month, Institute for Liberty President and Townhall columnist Andrew Langer wrote that conservative editors need to exercise more caution when giving platform to supposed allies on the big issues of the day.

It might be understandable for a few progressive interlocutors to slip through the cracks with the presidential primary debate frenzy underway.

But the two left-wing activists Langer highlights, Ron Hira, a researcher at the George Soros-funded Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and Democratic operative Curtis Ellis have routinely been welcomed with open arms by Breitbart, WorldNetDaily, National Review, the Daily Caller, and others, including well before the intensity of primary season arrived.

Unfortunately, it’s not just conservative outlets that are giving them quarter. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has twice provided a platform as well to Mr. Hira, inviting him to testify first in 2013, and again as recently as last spring.

Is Mr. Hira, who recently became an associate professor at Howard University, the best expert conservatives can muster to point out what are otherwise important and needed areas of debate around temporary worker programs?

Let’s take a deeper look at Mr. Hira, who’s opposition to our guest worker programs offers intrigue for its motivations – and its personal hypocrisy.

Ron Hira has been a prolific writer and commentator on what he sees as abuses and failures of our H-1B temporary skilled worker program. He plucks headlines of American workers being replaced with temporary foreign labor, including what stories around what has now turned into a lawsuit by former Disney employees in Orlando.

He has positioned himself well on the topic, publishing big labor-funded research under the banner of EPI and submitting opinion articles to any number of publications, including the seemingly unwitting outlets identified above.

He spends so much time on the topic, in fact, that it is odd to not see Hira’s name on EPI’s annual Form 990, which non-profit organizations are required to submit to the IRS, disclosing high-income employees or consultants. Given the volume of his research, the $100,000 threshold seems like a milestone he would easily surpass, but his name is nowhere to be found in their 2014 filing, the most recent available online.

One explanation might be that he’s conducted the research within his capacity at Howard University, where he is an associate professor of political science. Ironically, Hira’s link to the university comes via his father in law, who immigrated to the U.S. to work as a professor at Howard on none other than a temporary H-1 visa before eventually becoming a citizen. Hira’s parents also came to the U.S. on work visas.  Now that they’re here, please close the door behind us, perhaps?

Howard University isn’t just a convenient commute to Capitol Hill hearing rooms. It has also availed Hira to two university-paid research aides, Peter Ugbong and Wilma Hosten. In an added touch of irony, both university employees spend their days responsible for processing student visas for international students, while moonlighting in support of Mr. Hira’s research promoting the closure of our borders at night. Good luck kids.

Whether it’s at Howard University, our border with Mexico, or the halls of Disney, there’s no question that our immigration policy is a mess. But we owe it to ourselves to be honest about where we’re getting our information next time the hearing room lights go up.