WASHINGTON -- As an overhaul of immigration laws shifts to the House, a right-leaning group is launching a new television ad campaign Monday that will call on House lawmakers -- and, implicitly, resistant Republicans -- to support the Senate-passed “border surge” as part of “conservative immigration reform."
The ad seeks to influence rank-and-file lawmakers as House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) convenes Republicans behind closed doors to assess how the GOP majority will respond to the bipartisan Senate bill.
Many House Republicans oppose the legislation because it includes a 13-year citizenship path for immigrants here without legal status. But influential party leaders think other rank-and-file lawmakers may be interested in a compromise that could help the party’s outreach to the growing Latino electorate.
“This is the tough border security America needs,” said the television ad, the first to specifically target the House from American Action Network, whose Hispanic Leadership Network has sought to educate lawmakers about immigration. It notes that the surge is supported by conservative leaders, including what is essentially a who’s who of potential 2016 presidential contenders: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the former vice presidential nominee. The ad will run nationally in prime time this week on the Fox News channel.
Former President George W. Bush, who will give a high profile immigration speech this week, said Sunday he thinks an overhaul “has a chance to pass.”
It is unclear whether Bush's views will sway the new generation of Republican lawmakers who are more conservative; they view the Bush administration with skepticism because of its runup of the national debt. Bush will discuss immigration in a keynote address Wednesday during a naturalization ceremony at his new presidential library in Texas.
“I think it's very important to fix a broken system, to treat people with respect and have confidence in our capacity to assimilate people,” Bush said Sunday in an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “The legislative process is -- can be ugly. But it looks like they're making some progress.”
The $46-billion border surge, engineered by two Republican senators, emerged as a crucial component of the Senate immigration overhaul. Under the bill, the unprecedented military-style buildup along the southern border with Mexico must be underway before the estimated 11 million immigrants in the country without legal status can finish their 10-year transition to green card status or 13-year path to citizenship. It includes 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, the completion of 700 miles of fencing and 24-hour drones and other surveillance.
Liberal critics decried the surge as an unnecessary intrusion into border communities. But they have also largely muted their criticism because the surge became instrumental in attracting Republican support for the bipartisan Senate overhaul, which passed 68-32.
“The conservative border surge plan is tough, enforceable, takes away discretion from the Obama administration, and that would finally secure the border,” said the American Action Network's communications director, Dan Conston. “We hope Americans call their congressperson and tell them to support the conservative plan to secure the border.”