HUFFINGTON POST LATINO VOICES
By Elise Foley
June 28, 2012
Of the many conflicts on immigration, there is at least one broad agreement: Both President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney have said the legal visa process, particularly for high-skilled workers and foreign-born graduates with advanced degrees, should be made easier.
But to a few groups that message is concerning, and they are increasing their advertising in an attempt to combat it.
Three groups that advocate for lowering even legal immigration -- Numbers USA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and Progressives for Immigration Reform -- are advertising ahead of the election, with some ramping up their efforts as debate over the issue heats up.
Most ads focus on jobs and unemployment, arguing that immigration hurts American workers. And although the groups disagree with Obama's immigration policy -- Roy Beck of Numbers USA said the organization is increasing its advertising in part because of the president's recent deportation decision -- they aren't 100 percent happy with GOP candidate Mitt Romney either.
"I think his positions on illegal immigration are fantastic," said Beck. "But I don't see any signs yet that he understands any better than President Obama that legal immigration is a labor issue and it affects the ability of Americans to get jobs. ... Both of them are, at this point, kind of clueless about that issue."
The organization, which does not endorse candidates, already was running ads, including during the GOP presidential debates in late 2011 and earlier this year. But in light of recent events and the election creeping closer, Numbers USA launched an even bigger advertising campaign against legal immigration earlier this week. The ads will run until at least the end of July on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Right now, they are running heavily in the District of Columbia, but Numbers USA plans to increase advertising in the future in Nevada and Florida, two states that suffer especially high unemployment.
The newest Numbers USA ad, shows a clip of a woman whose husband is unemployed asking Obama why he allows more legal immigrants to come when jobs are scarce.
"Let's reduce mass immigration and save jobs for Americans," a voiceover says.
Ads from Progressives for Immigration Reform are running this week on MSNBC, and spots from the Federation for American Immigration Reform, typically called FAIR, push the same message: that the government is giving away too many visas.
"Could your job be next?" a voiceover asks in the FAIR ad.
The idea that legal immigration is bad for the country goes against one of the few bipartisan agreements on the issue. Many Republicans, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), support legislation that would reform the process of obtaining employment-based visas. The congressman introduced a bill that would end country limits, which make it more difficult to immigrate from India and China, among other counties, for those green cards.
Business groups, including many in Silicon Valley, have lobbied for those changes, because they say there are not enough workers in the United States to take the high-skilled jobs they need to fill. Others argue that immigrants create jobs by creating new products or forming companies.
Obama and Romney each mentioned reform of visas for high-skilled workers in speeches last week at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials last week. They argued that those immigrants are able to create jobs for others.
"We want the best and brightest to enrich the nation through the jobs and technologies they're going to create," Romney said then.
The three groups advertising against legal immigration want to convince the American people, and then the candidates, to change their message.
"We want to inform candidates, and we want to inform voters so they can inform candidates," Beck said. "Our big thing is that immigration is constantly being brought up by the left and the right in all kinds of wedge ways, but almost never about the jobs issue, and that's our focus."