As the debate over immigration reform has played out over the past year, some conservatives have called on the GOP to oppose Gang of Eight–style comprehensive reform in order to “rebrand” Republicans as populist defenders of the working class who are not beholden to big business and its K Street allies.
Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour was not one of them.
Barbour, who has made millions lobbying for large corporations such as Microsoft and R. J. Reynolds, has been urging Republicans to pass comprehensive immigration reform since November 2012, just days after the GOP’s disastrous electoral defeat. Barbour is also a co-chairman of the Immigration Task Force at the Bipartisan Policy Center, which supports Gang of Eight–style reform. According to GOP congressional staffers, Barbour has been one of the most aggressive behind-the-scenes lobbyists for comprehensive reform, even reaching out to the Gang of Eight’s most ardent opponents.