Republican budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan is the target of a new home-state TV-ad by an anti-immigration group.
The $200,000 radio and TV ad campaign starts Monday, and is timed for the August recess when Ryan is expected to be at home, defending his calls for an immigration bill that would boost the inflow of low-skill and high-skill workers, despite Americans’ declining wages and high unemployment rates.
“Congressman Paul Ryan says we have a labor shortage in Wisconsin. That’s right, a labor shortage,” says the ad, produced by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
“Tell that to the 12 percent unemployed in Racine, the 10 percent unemployment in Milwaukee, the 9 percent unemployment in Janesville. Thousands are looking for work, yet Ryan supports a plan that could double immigration, grant amnesty to illegal aliens, and bring in millions more foreign workers to take jobs,” the ad says,
“Does Congressman Ryan think Wisconsin workers are not good enough to get the work done? Help us stand with the American worker.”
The ad illustrates the groups’ focus on immigrants’ impact on jobs rather than the much-debated issue of border security, which has been given much attention by politicians, advocates, lobbyists and journalists.
“Congressman Ryan needs to explain to thousands of Wisconsin workers… why he wants to increase immigration in order to avert a labor shortage that clearly does not exist,” said a statement from Dan Stein, FAIR’s president.
“Wisconsin has 210,000 unemployed workers. Does Congressman Ryan think they’re not good enough to get the job done?”
The ad follows Ryan’s increasing public push for a major immigration rewrite.
“We have been listening to the American people,” he told CBS Aug. 4. “So what we’re going to do is take a step-by-step approach to get immigration right, not a big massive bill but separate bills so people know what’s in these bills,” he said.
“We need to fix our legal immigration system [because] people come to this country based on family relations, not based on skills,” he said.
Ryan can afford to lose some voters to the ad-campaign — he won his November 2012 election with 60 percent of the vote.
But criticism of Ryan has increased partly because he is lobbying his fellow Republican legislators to vote for an immigration rewrite that is unpopular with much of the Republican base, just as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio rallied support for the Senate’s immigration rewrite, which passed in late June.
Also, Ryan has met several times with a Wisconsin progressive group, Voces de le Frontera, that has campaigned for an amnesty, and against border security, the E-verify verification system, and deportations of illegal immigrants.
“We treat people with fairness and respect by giving them a path to citizenship with a probationary visa,” Ryan told the groups’ members during a May 8 meeting in Racine.
He reiterated the message in a June 26 meeting with the group, saying “tentatively, in October, we’re going to vote on a border security bill, an interior enforcement bill, a bill for legal immigration.”
Also, he said, “we’re going to vote on a bill for people who are undocumented.”
The overall push is being boosted by progressives, the media and by President Barack Obama, who believes the passage of a major immigration rewrite would be a historic achievement, say aides.
For example, Obama’s main advocacy group, Organizing For Action, is holding numerous events to promote the Senate’s immigration bill during the recess, but is not holding any public events to tout the economic proposals being touted by Obama during his campaign-style speeches this month.
Critics say the Senate bill, voted through late June, would boost immigration to add roughly 46 million immigrants by 2033.
The push is also backed by business groups and by many GOP leaders and consultants who want to reduce Hispanic turnout in 2016, regardless of the long-term impact.
Ryan served as Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, and may compete for the nomination against other likely candidates in 2016, such as Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida.
“Like the Democrats, Paul Ryan is dancing to the music of his corporate masters,” said David Gorak, head of the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration.
“He has absolutely no concern about the welfare of his fellow citizens, who in my view are also entitled to search for a better life,” Gorak added.
The Republican leadership of the House, including Ryan and Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, are trying to downplay the attention given to the immigration controversies during the August recess.
They’re doing it by remaining vague on their immigration plans, by talking up the need for increased border security, and for defunding of Obamacare.
“We have not made any announcements as to the schedule yet… [but] the House has also indicated that we’re going to take a position on this,” Cantor said on Fox News Sunday, Aug. 4, when asked if he would schedule a vote on a bill that would give 11 million illegal immigrants a conditional amnesty.
“We will have a vote on a series of bills at some point… it will deal with a variety of issues [and] border security is a really important issue,” he said while evading the question several times.