The AFL-CIO is challenging House Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform in a series of new television ads targeting lawmakers in districts with large Latino populations.
Union President Richard Trumka said the ads will run in Spanish in Bakersfield, Calif., Denver, Atlanta and Orlando, and in English in the Washington area. He said the cost of the ads totals more than $1 million.
"The time for acting on immigration reform is now. Labor unions have decided to throw down in a big way to make it happen," Trumka said on a conference call with reporters. "The two main objectives are to spur House Republicans into action on immigration reform this year and to hold Republican members of Congress accountable for hostile statements about Latino immigrants."
The AFL-CIO has been supportive of immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for the nation's 12 million undocumented workers and students, as a way to ensure equal conditions in salary and benefits in the workplace.
House GOP leaders have said they will not support a comprehensive Senate plan that would allow illegal immigrants to pursue citizenship over a 13-year period, saying they will consider a series of smaller-scale bills. But three Republicans in heavily Latino districts have broken ranks and signed on to support a comprehensive Democratic House immigration plan.
Trumka warned that Republicans who do not support immigration are at risk of losing their seats, and that the GOP will have trouble winning national elections for the White House because Latinos and Asians are a fast-growing segment of the electorate.
"If the GOP doesn't get right on immigration and regain their competitiveness with Latino voters it will cease to be a party that can win national elections for a generation," Trumka said.