The Washington Post

SEIU launching immigration ad campaign

The Service Employees International Union is launching a cable ad campaign urging lawmakers to support immigration reform, airing on national cable during the congressional recess.

The ad will run for a week on the most-watched cable news programs on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. The buy is small at $300,000, but it is part of a seven-figure television ad campaign from the SEIU, a media consultant working with the union says.

The ad, "America," aims to appeal to both immigration reform advocates and skeptics. Over shots of a diverse group of workers repairing a bent American flag, the spot calls on Congress to pass "an earned path to citizenship" that includes "back taxes paid, English learned."

"We think we are on the right path but we are not taking any chances," SEIU President Mary Kay Henry told The Post. The message for lawmakers is that "they need to return to Congress and get the job done." The union is pushing for a Senate bill passed by end of April and a House debate in May. Lawmakers began a two-week recess this week.

Senate immigration reform is at an impasse because of a dispute between business and labor, The Post reported last week. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO have been unable to come to an agreement on  a new visa program for foreign workers. Henry described negotiations as "difficult" but said she was confident that negotiators would "reach a fair and reasonable solution."

The coalition Alliance for Citizenship, of which SEIU is a part, is running a multimillion-dollar campaign for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.  Along with the TV ad campaign, the SEIU has aired Spanish-language radio ads, sent out field staffers to mobilize voters in lawmakers' districts during the recess, and has lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The groups will hold a rally in front of the Capitol on April 10.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



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