Big Labor Calling Out House GOP on Immigration

Janet Murguia, National Council of la Raza President and CEO, and Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, listen to questions from reporters outside the West Wing after a meeting at the White House February 5, 2013 in Washington,DC. Obama met with labor leaders to talk about immigration reform. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Elahe Izad
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Elahe Izad
Nov. 6, 2013, 3:28 p.m.

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.”

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