Immigration advocates push for pathway to citizenship with $50M campaign

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A new $50 million ad campaign launched by a coalition of immigration advocacy groups backs the Biden administration’s efforts to push Congress for legislation providing a legal pathway to citizenship. 

The campaign includes a $30 million commitment from a network of advocacy groups called We Are Home, as well as $20 million from a handful of other groups, including the Mark Zuckerberg-backed, according to details of the campaign first shared with The Associated Press

Lorella Praeli, president of one of the coalition groups, Community Change Action, told The Hill that the ad campaign aims to pressure Democrats to deliver change for the voters who helped elect them in the hopes of achieving comprehensive immigration reform.

“What we will be measuring and what people on the ground are looking for is can they knead rhetoric with action and concrete change in people’s lives, real change in people’s lives,” Praeli explained. “And real change in people’s lives right now is a pathway to citizenship.”

The campaign will start Saturday with TV and digital ads across five states and Washington, D.C., as well as digital ads in six additional states.

The groups are also planning nearly 60 events to be held Saturday in honor of May Day, or International Workers’ Day, and will also launch efforts to defend Democrats identified as pro-immigrant “champions” who are facing reelection in the House and Senate in 2022. 

Praeli told The Hill that the coalition also aims to push Democrats to adopt the use of budget reconciliation for a comprehensive immigration reform bill, a move to which the White House has signaled opposition. 

President Biden has voiced a desire to pass a bill with bipartisan support instead of reconciliation, a procedural tool that allows senators to pass a bill with 51 votes instead of the 60-vote majority typically needed to move Senate legislation forward. 

The news comes the same day Biden is scheduled to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress, where he is expected to recommit himself to leading an overhaul of the country’s immigration system and call on Congress to pass legislation on a pathway to citizenship, according to an administration official who spoke to The Washington Post.

Praeli said in an interview with The Hill that “it’s been a real disappointment” that immigration was not included in Biden’s American Families Plan or American Jobs Plan, adding that she hopes Biden during his address Tuesday explains what “the administration is going to be doing to lean into immigration fully.” 

“You cannot have a full economic recovery if you exclude immigrants from the vision and from the plan,” she argued. 

While Biden fulfilled a campaign promise by sending an immigration bill to Congress on his first day in office, focus in the months since has turned to efforts to pass the coronavirus relief American Rescue Plan, as well as his infrastructure proposal. 

The immigration coalition is also launching a $1 million ad buy this week from America’s Voice and Care in Action in places such as Arizona and California, pushing back on GOP attacks on Biden’s response to the recent surge in immigrants at the southern border, particularly unaccompanied minors. 

In one ad shared with The Hill, the groups accused the GOP of hypocrisy on immigration, saying “Republicans don’t care about children at the border” while Biden “has a plan to fix the mess Republicans left” there.

Updated at 12:57 p.m.

Tags ad campaign address to joint session Biden address to Congress Biden immigration policy bipartisan Joe Biden Mark Zuckerberg migrant surge pathway to citizenship Reconciliation The Associated Press The Washington Post

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