- Associated Press - Thursday, September 30, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, a man with his own immigration story, told Congress Thursday that securing the U.S. borders must be matched with efforts to ensure that employers can’t hire people who are here illegally.

Mr. Murdoch and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg testified before a House immigration subcommittee that last week featured comedian Stephen Colbert, who gave tongue-in-cheek testimony on the plight of farmworkers.

The two high-profile witnesses who came to Capitol Hill Thursday couldn’t pack the hearing room, however, as Mr. Colbert did in his appearance last week.

Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Bloomberg have formed a coalition of businesses and mayors to push for immigration reform. The group supports providing a path to legal status for those in the country illegally. Mr. Murdoch himself was born in Australia and became a U.S. citizen in 1985.

“As an immigrant, I chose to live in America because it is one of the freest and most vibrant nations in the world. And as an immigrant, I feel an obligation to speak up for immigration policies that will keep America the most economically robust, creative and freedom-loving nation in the world,” he said.

Comedian Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, before the House Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law subcommittee hearing on Protecting America's Harvest. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Comedian Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report, prepares to testify on ... more >

The Obama administration has made cracking down on employers a centerpiece of its immigration policies.

The illegal immigrant population has tripled, even as the government has increased enforcement spending almost every year since 1992, Mr. Murdoch said. He said the wave of immigratants only started to crest when the country hit a recession.

“So our border security must also be matched with efforts to make sure emploers can’t hire illegal immigrants,” Mr. Murdoch said.

Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Bloomberg said they believe Congress needs to help employers discern between workers authorized to work in the U.S and those who are not.

Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, told Mr. Murdoch she thought his support for immigration reforms in his testimony did not match the way the immigration issue is presented on Fox News, which is a large part of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp. empire.

“Why don’t you use your power to help us promote what you are talking about?” Mrs. Waters asked.

Fox News is not anti-immigrant, Mr. Murdoch said.