Why Is the Immigration Fight Coming to Home Depot and Domino’s?

Drive to Home Depot stores across the nation and you’ll find day laborers — many of them undocumented immigrants — lined up waiting for work.

So where does the company stand on an immigration reform bill that would legalize many of those workers, along with millions of others?

They won’t say. Yet.

Activists on Thursday will try to drag Home Depot and another corporate giant, Domino’s Pizza, into the immigration reform scrum.

Members of a union representing doormen, janitors and food service workers will demonstrate outside Home Depot’s lobbying office in Washington, D.C., calling on the company to use its leverage to help pass an immigration bill.

From there, protesters will march to a nearby Domino’s franchise, chanting their take on the company’s ad campaign, “Powered By Pizza,” and replacing it with “Powered By Immigrants.”

Home Depot is aware that the workers gathering outside its store often represent the public face of the country’s immigration debate. In the past, they’ve acted cautiously when addressing that.

“The existence of this issue is one that’s beyond the Home Depot’s control,” then-spokesperson David Sandor told The New York Times in 2005.

That doesn’t mean they simply ignore the workers lining up out front. They’ve been open to cooperating with day laborer groups in recent years, according to Chris Newman, the legal director at the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON).

Newman said that the company has been “very thoughtful” when it comes to its relationship with workers outside its stores.

“I think that they recognize the value that day laborers provide for their business model,” he said.

Both companies did not respond to a request for comment.

There’s a strategic reason put pressure on Home Depot, too.

The company has a political action committee that has given several million dollars to Republican candidates in recent years. Among the recipients are people like House Speaker John Boehner, who has already received $10,000 from the committee for his 2014 run for office.

Boehner is largely seen as the person who could make immigration reform happen in Congress this year. Yet he hasn’t taken a clear stance on exactly what the House can or will pass.

While Domino’s Pizza hasn’t given to the GOP on the scale of Home Depot, it’s connected to the party’s leadership.

The wife of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sits on the company’s board of directors and has accrued cash, stock and stock options worth more than $3 million in that role since October 2005.

None of this means that the companies will come out in favor of immigration reform, or that Republican leadership will bend to the will of its donors.

But activists behind the event, like CASA in Action lead organizer Ashwini Jaisingh, think it’s a start.

“It’s really about starting a conversation with the executives of these corporations, who can move these key Republican leaders right now,” she said.


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