John Gay

We started shooting with John at the very beginning of the project. He was working for the American Hotel and Lodging Association but he also chaired a coalition of business organizations who were lobbying for immigration reform. EWIC, the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, includes lobbyists for all the industries who rely on seasonal or low-skilled workers and are vulnerable to worker shortages. All of EWIC's member organizations have multiple interests in Congress, so the EWIC structure gives them an avenue to advocate for immigration reform that stays separate from their efforts on, say, a climate change bill.

John has a certain southern charm and up-beat personality which made us love filming him, but the actual EWIC meetings were great too. Whether EWIC's members were word-smithing a press release, parsing a whip-count, or debating the merits of a particular bill they were always so sharp about things, always clear on where they stood and why, and they were always quick with the one-liners.

We once saw a Republican staffer ask John, to his face, why as a Business advocate he would work with Sen. Kennedy, but EWIC always stuck to their principles of endorsing only bills that are bipartisan and comprehensive. We were continually impressed by that-- there were points over those years when it would have been so easy to give up his bipartisan ideals, or to get behind a guestworkers-only program that would be a short term fix for EWIC, but John kept fighting for his long term goals.

Over those years John also worked at the International Franchise Association and the National Restaurant Association, but he remained co-chair of EWIC throughout. Then in April of 2009, John left the NRA and EWIC, and is now CEO of the Natural Products Association, which represents retailers and suppliers of dietary supplements, food, and personal care products. He remains personally interested, but not professionally active in the immigration reform issue.