Koch-Backed Ad Campaign Targets Senators on Immigration Changes

  • The initiative is focused on six senators seen as dealmakers
  • House-passed immigration bills face uphill battle in Senate

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A group backed by billionaire conservative Charles Koch plans to unveil a digital campaign Friday prodding the Senate to pass changes to the immigration system by targeting six lawmakers viewed as potential dealmakers.

The ad campaign by the LIBRE Initiative will target Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) Thom Tillis (N.C.), James Lankford (Okla.), Rob Portman (Ohio), and John Cornyn (Texas).

The organization intends to reach tens of thousands of people in each of the six states in which the ads are focused, prompting them to send a message to their senator. The Texas-based group declined to say how much it was spending on the digital initiative.

“Our goal is to encourage these lawmakers to be leaders in finding consensus with their colleagues by showing them there is overwhelming support from their state in favor of reforming our immigration system,” Daniel Garza, president of the LIBRE Initiative, said in an emailed statement. “These efforts should remind lawmakers that the status quo is unacceptable and that the last 30 years of inaction have led us to where we are today: a broken, outdated system.”

Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg
Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) are among the senators targeted in a new immigration advocacy campaign.

The campaign is being launched after the House on Thursday passed two immigration measures, one that would give legal status to farm workers (H.R. 1603) and another that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children (H.R. 6). Only nine Republicans joined House Democrats in voting for the bill aimed at the so-called Dreamers and 30 GOP members supported the agriculture workers legislation.

The Democratic leadership faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where they will need to pick up some GOP support to muster the 60 votes needed for passage. Many Republicans have expressed unwillingness to support changes amid the surge of migrants from Central America coming across the U.S. border.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has in the past supported legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, said Wednesday there would be no bipartisan solution to immigration until the border situation is addressed.

The LIBRE Initiative and Americans for Prosperity, its sister organization, have had roughly 100 contacts with Capitol Hill offices on immigration issues. They’ve also partnered with other organizations such as the National Immigration Forum for some of the meetings.

Read More:Business Groups Push Immigration Bills in Face of GOP Dissent

To contact the reporter on this story: Megan R. Wilson in Washington at mwilson@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bennett Roth at broth@bgov.com; Kyle Trygstad at ktrygstad@bgov.com

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