The nation's biggest labor group is taking its support for an immigration overhaul to the TV airwaves, with Spanish-language ads that hammer Republican House members.
One ad uses the words of three GOP members. There's Steve King of Iowa saying: "They're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert," played after a shot of Latinos at a wedding ceremony. And Alabama's Mo Brooks saying: "I'll do anything short of shooting them," after the image of a soldier hugging his wife. Georgia's Paul Broun is featured saying: "These illegal aliens are criminals and we need to treat as such," after a photo of roofers at work.
The spots are running in Atlanta; Orlando, Fla.; Denver, and Bakersfield, Calif. — the districts of Broun, Daniel Webster, Mike Coffman and David Valadao. The union said it is spending more than $1 million, with the ads running a minimum of 210 times in each of the markets over two weeks. The union is also running English-language versions of the ads in the Washington, D.C., market.
Six more GOP House members are targeted by the AFL-CIO's "Cost of Inaction" campaign, with online ads and in-district grass-roots work. The Bakersfield television ads also reach the district represented by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
All but Broun represent districts that are at least 15 percent Hispanic, according to U.S. census statistics. While Broun's district is only 5 percent Hispanic, he is running for Senate in Georgia, which has one of the highest Hispanic population growth rates in the country.
Of the 11 members, Valadao and fellow Californian Jeff Denham have already co-sponsored the House version of the immigration bill that passed the Senate earlier this year. But AFL-CIO officials said they and others on the list should be doing more to actually persuade their colleagues to support a bill.
"The Republican Party controls the immediate fate and future of immigration reform, but Latino voters control the long-term fate and future of the Republican Party," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.
The National Republican Congressional Committee's Andrea Bozek responded: "Obama's liberal allies will do anything to distract from their failed health care law that is raising premiums for families across the country. Republicans are focused on finding solutions to the broken system, not playing political games."
S.V. Dáte edits politics and campaign finance coverage for NPR's Washington Desk.