A pro-immigration group headed by former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is targeting 14 senators in a new television advertisement and phone campaign this fall over the fate of young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers.”
In a six-figure ad buy launching Wednesday, the group, New American Economy, describes the dreamers, who have been in the United States illegally since they were children, as graduates, scientists and baristas who have “done everything right” but could be “forced to leave the only country” they have ever known if Congress fails to reach an immigration deal.
The ad comes a day after President Trump made his first public case for a White House immigration proposal that offers a 12-year path to citizenship for as many as 1.8 million dreamers, while also asking for $25 billion for a border wall and sharp cuts to legal immigration programs.
Congress is facing a Feb. 8 deadline for a must-pass spending bill to keep the government open, but some lawmakers said they will not support a long-term deal that does not include an agreement on immigration. Last fall, Trump terminated the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that had provided work permits for hundreds of thousands of dreamers, and he set a March 5 deadline for Congress before the bulk of the permits begin to expire. (A federal judge this month issued an injunction ordering the administration to resume DACA, but legal experts said it would probably be overturned if challenged.)
“Imagine it was you,” a narrator says in the New American Economy ad. “You’ve done everything right, but now you’ll lose your job, your education, your family — forced to leave the only country you’ve ever known. For 800,000 dreamers who came here as kids, it’s not a bad dream. If Congress fails to act, that’s the future they face: lives ruined, the economy and military hurt.”
Department of Homeland Security officials have said about 800,000 dreamers have enrolled in DACA since President Barack Obama created it through executive authority in 2012. However, officials said about 690,000 were covered by the program when Trump ended it in September.
Conservative Republicans in the House have revolted against Trump's immigration plan, saying they do not support citizenship for the dreamers. Democrats have denounced the plan, saying the cuts to legal immigration are draconian.
“We presented Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise, one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs and must have,” Trump said Tuesday night in his State of the Union address to Congress. Of the dreamers, Trump said: “Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States over a 12-year period.”
The New American Economy advertisement and phone campaign will target South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.