The AFL-CIO launched a major television ad campaign on Wednesday, taking House Republicans to task for the stalled work on immigration reform.
The ads will target GOP members who live in districts with large Hispanic populations and is part of a broader effort by the labor movement to push the House into taking action.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Tuesday said Republicans would pay a price at the ballot box if immigration reform runs aground in the House.
“If they block immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship and strong workers’ protections, House Republicans are risking their political future. Some are risking their jobs in the upcoming midterm elections. And all are risking the long-term prospects of the Republican Party,” Trumka said.
The AFL-CIO television ads will run in Spanish in Atlanta; Bakersfield, Calif.; Denver and Orlando, Fla., — all congressional districts with large Latino populations. In addition, the ads will also be broadcast in English in the Washington, D.C., area.
The ad buy is seven figures, and there might be more in the works, according to Trumka.
“It’s going to be over a million dollars. This is the first phase. Who knows? It may go more. We may need more, a second phase or a third phase. We are willing to do what it takes to move Republicans and get this bill moving,” Trumka said.
The Senate passed comprehensive legislation over the summer, but House Republicans have rejected that bill in favor of a piecemeal approach.
House Republicans are considering a series of smaller bills to deal with immigration and are placing emphasis on the need to secure the border. Many House Republicans are also opposed to a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, which Democrats say is non-negotiable.
The union ads take shots at some Republicans by highlighting some of their controversial statements about immigration reform and immigrants.
One ad has Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) talking about immigrants “hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert” while Paul BrounPaul Collins BrounHundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia Joe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia California lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment MORE (R-Ga.) says “these illegal aliens are criminals, and we need to treat them as such.” Those statements play over several patriotic images in the ads, including Latino students, or families in church.
A voiceover concludes the ad, saying, “When you listen to what the Republicans say about immigrants, it makes you wonder if they believe in this country as much as we do.”
The AFL-CIO also plans to start a voter contact program this week in nine congressional districts held by Republican House members. Some of those targets include Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) and Daniel Webster (R-Fla.).
“We don’t want a political issue. We want a solution. But if they can’t get off their hind ends and make something happen, then they have to understand that, when election time comes around, we are prepared to throw everything we have into it and make them learn that lesson,” said Tom Snyder, the AFL-CIO’s immigration campaign manager.
Proponents of immigration reform legislation have stepped up their lobbying efforts since the end of the government shutdown. On Tuesday, the Chamber of Commerce brought 50 small-business owners from across the country to storm Capitol Hill in support of immigration reform.
That followed a massive fly-in trip of more than 600 activists, which was organized by the Chamber, the tech industry’s FWD.us, the National Immigration Forum and the Partnership for a New American Economy, which was co-founded New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
President Obama is trying to keep the focus on immigration as well, and on Tuesday met with a group of business CEOs to talk immigration reform. That meeting is part of the White House effort to build business pressure against Republicans.
Trumka said that the labor federation’s ads are meant to spark action from Republicans.
“Can we harden them? Well, how much harder can you get than not moving an inch? What else can they do, say ‘Hell no’ instead of ‘no?’ ... And we are going to continue to push them until they move and give this bill a vote, which will pass overwhelmingly and they know it,” Trumka said.