WASHINGTON -- For Rep. Gary Miller and voters in his Inland Empire district, this is just the beginning: A television ad began airing Thursday in the Republican’s district seeking to ratchet up pressure on him to support a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.
Miller is among seven GOP lawmakers nationwide targeted in the roughly $500,000 ad buy by the Service Employees International Union.
Many more ads are expected because Miller is regarded as among the most vulnerable House Republicans, a top Democratic target who represents a heavily Latino district won by President Obama.
Miller said in a statement that he will "closely examine the merits and consequences of any proposal the House of Representatives considers to ensure that it will lead to the establishment of a fair and efficient immigration system that promotes economic growth, fixes the legal immigration process, and implements e-verify and effective border security measures."
The 30-second ad, which will run for about a week, opens with scenes of the government shutdown, including a shot of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), an architect of the strategy to hold up a government funding bill in an effort to stop Obamacare. It notes that while the Senate passed a broad immigration bill in June, the House has yet to hold a vote to "fix our broken immigration system’’ and urges voters to call Miller and "tell him the time for talk is over."
Miller, elected to Congress in 1998, has taken a hard line on illegal immigration. Even after moving to a new district, he voted earlier this year for a House-passed measure to stop funding the Obama administration program that halted the deportation of young immigrants who are in high school or college or have served in the military.
A coalition of immigrant advocacy groups on Thursday also announced plans to target nine Republican-held congressional districts, including those of Miller, Howard (Buck) McKeon of Santa Clarita, Jeff Denham of Turlock and David Valadao of Hanford, with phone calls, door-to-door visits and other events to inform voters of their lawmakers’ position on an overhaul of immigration policy.
Denham and Valadao, who represent heavily Latino districts that rely on immigrants to pick crops, recently joined Democrats in support of a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.
Eddie Carmona, campaign manager for the the PICO Action Fund, which is participating in the so-called Cost of Inaction program, said the groups included Denham and Valadao to keep the heat on them to press their leadership for a vote.
"We have shown we are willing to support and thank Denham and Valadao and will do so for any of the other seven Republicans we are targeting that step up and lead, but we want to make it clear that we will not settle for half measures that still leave our families hurting come elections next year," Carmona said.
House Speaker John Boehner has said he has no plans to bring the Senate bill up for consideration. House Republicans have favored a "step-by-step approach" to overhaul parts of the immigration system, but so far those steps do not include a path to citizenship.
The ads targeting Miller and some of his Republican colleagues come after the AFL-CIO put down more than $1 million for Spanish-language TV ads that began running Wednesday in Bakersfield, Denver, Atlanta and Orlando, Fla., also pushing for a House vote on legislation that would provide a path to citizenship. The ads feature a comment made by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that many young immigrants in the country illegally were drug smugglers.
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