An influential labor union launched a Spanish-language ad campaign Sunday criticizing Republican Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) recent extreme comments that compared undocumented youths to drug smugglers recently. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) ad is the latest push to force House Republicans to dissociate with King or risk alienating Latino voters in their districts.
The targeted ad sharply condemn King’s “offensive” and baseless insults, but it also challenges Republicans to support immigration reform and to hold King accountable for his remarks. The English translation of the ad is below:
VOICEOVER: It’s happened again. Once again, the debate over immigration reform has devolved to the lowest level by offensive comments and actions by extreme Republicans in Congress.
In talking about young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents, Republican Congressman Steve King said:
KING: “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds — and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
This is offensive and an insult to our community. It’s time that Republicans choose between extremism or progress.
Where does Representative McKeon stand? Call him at 877-848-8289 and tell him to reject the extremists in his party and join the majority of Americans in supporting immigration reform with a path to citizenship for our families.
The ad will run in seven Republican districts that have a significant Latino population. The only difference is that it will reflect the names of the Republicans representing those targeted districts. Those districts are represented by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA), Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), and Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL).
Top-ranked House Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) have already distanced themselves from King’s comments, though none of them have dismissed King himself. Boehner remained silent about whether he would allow King to remain on the House Judiciary Committee. The Committee will draft a House version of an immigration reform bill in the fall.
Throughout last week, Rep. Steve King remained unapologetic. On Thursday, he sent out a campaign email asking people to donate money to his campaign to fend off attacks. On Saturday, he said that Republicans privately support him.
A majority of King’s constituents would likely disagree with his assessment. More than 59 percent of his constituents support legalization for the so-called DREAMers who King lambasted as “drug mules.” Overall, 69 percent of his constituents support a comprehensive immigration reform bill, a figure that includes over 67 percent of Republicans.
The SEIU ad comes on the heels of a similar Spanish-language attack ad paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in mid-July. In that ad, the DCCC also targeted seven House Republicans for voting for King’s amendment that would stop the deportation ban on undocumented youths.
Reps. Gary Miller (R-CA) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) are cross-targeted for both the SEIU and DCCC ads. They both voted to approve King’s amendment. The two congressmen represent districts in which their re-elections will heavily depend on certain groups of their constituents. Heck represents a district that is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. He has broad support from his Catholic constituents, but a vast majority of them support immigration reform. Miller is just as vulnerable since he represents 44.4 percent of Hispanics voters.
The SEIU ad is only the beginning of other immigration-advocate campaigns to get Republicans to distance themselves from King. Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) will travel to King’s district to hold a town hall event on the DREAM Act.