It turns out that cosponsoring a comprehensive immigration-reform bill isn't enough for immigration supporters.
The AFL-CIO on Wednesday began what it's dubbed an "escalation" of immigration-related activities, intended to push House Republican leadership to put a comprehensive reform bill on the floor. The labor group will also launch in-district campaigns aimed at Republicans already signed onto the House bill.
"The time for acting on immigration reform is now and the labor movement has decided to throw down in a big way to make it happen," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters Wednesday.
The campaign includes a two-week, seven-figure ad buy for Spanish-language spots in a handful of markets and voter-contact programs in nine congressional districts. Only three House Republicans have cosponsored the House's comprehensive immigration bill — and two of them are being targeted by the AFL-CIO.
"It's not enough to just throw your name on something. You need to be organizing your colleagues in the House," said Tom Snyder, the AFL-CIO's immigration campaign manager.
"We're not going to let them off the hook simply because they cosponsor; they have to do more. We've asked them to publicly call out for a vote. Have they done that? No."
Spanish-language ads will run in Denver; Atlanta; Orlando, Fla.; and Bakersfield, Calif., which is in House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy's district. English-language ads, which juxtapose pictures of immigrant children, soldiers, and families with controversial statements from Rep. Steve King of Iowa, among other Republicans, will air in the Washington, D.C., area.
Republican Reps. David Valadao and Jeff Denham of California will be targeted by in-district mobilizations. They both signed onto the comprehensive bill in the House, which mirrors the Senate-passed bill (except for its border security provision, which is replaced by a bipartisan House border bill).
"I have been working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to push the discussion of immigration reform forward," Denham said in a statement to National Journal. "I will continue that effort in coming weeks and look forward to having a full debate with the American people regarding this important issue. My immediate goal is to show the speaker how much support there is for full reform."
Valadao spokeswoman Anna Vetter said in a statement that immigration is a "top priority" for the congressman, and referred to the portrayal that he hasn't shown leadership on the issue as "flagrantly inaccurate."
"Congressman David G. Valadao will continue to work with reasonable leaders from both parties on the issue of immigration reform until a solution is reached," she said.
Denham and Valadao are both facing competitive races, according to The Cook Political Report.
Other House Republicans being targeted include Reps. Gary Miller and Buck McKeon of California, Mike Coffman and Scott Tipton of Colorado, Steve Pearce of New Mexico, Daniel Webster of Florida, and Joe Heck of Nevada.
The pressure, Snyder said, is intended to push for passage of the immigration bill, rather than for political reasons. But if they don't mobilize to pass comprehensive immigration reform, he said, "they have to understand that when election time comes, then we're prepared to make something happen."
When pressed, Snyder said that that "something" is "to defeat them."