Koch Group Pushing Lawmakers for DACA Fix

Koch Group Pushing Lawmakers for DACA Fix
Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP
Koch Group Pushing Lawmakers for DACA Fix
Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP
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A group backed by the billionaire Republican donors Charles and David Koch is launching an ad campaign urging lawmakers to pass a permanent solution for DACA recipients.

The Libre Initiative, a conservative grassroots organization focused on engaging the Hispanic community, is releasing a series of mailers on Thursday targeting 20 Republican and Democratic lawmakers in support of immigration legislation to "provide certainty for Dreamers" and strengthen the nation’s southern border. The push is part of a broader seven-figure campaign on the issue that includes broadcast and digital ads, immigration town-hall meetings, phone-banking and advocacy work.

The initiative comes as a discharge petition to force a House vote on immigration policy gains steam. The effort, led by a group of moderate GOP lawmakers, has garnered signatures from 21 Republicans, several of whom are facing tough re-election bids in swing states in November. If just five more Republicans sign on, along with all 193 Democrats in the House, the effort will be successful.

The Libre ads are aimed at members of leadership in both parties and in both chambers, as well as senators from states with growing Latino populations. "Tell Speaker Ryan, it's time for a permanent, bipartisan solution," reads one of the mailers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are also targets of the ads.

Others on the list include Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, who is running for the U.S. Senate and faces a potentially difficult primary in which immigration is playing an outsized role. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is also on the list, as is Majority Whip John Cornyn.

Other Republicans include Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Dean Heller of Nevada, who is up for re-election this year in a state that Hillary Clinton carried and where Hispanic voters could help determine the outcome. Democrats on the list include Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who sponsored the DREAM Act, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Bill Nelson of Florida, Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall of New Mexico, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia.

Earlier this month, Libre launched a wave of mailers targeting pro-immigration House lawmakers from both parties.

"For far too long, our elected officials have continued to delay action on these important issues impacting our families and communities. Both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for reaching a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers,” said Libre President Daniel Garza.

In February, the Senate failed to pass any of three proposed bills aimed at resolving the status of those brought to the country illegally as children. One measure that garnered the most bipartisan support offered a citizenship pathway for Dreamers and allocated $25 billion for border security, a piece of legislation in line with the reforms Libre is urging.

While the Koch brothers are known for the massive amounts of money they give to conservative campaigns and causes, they have taken a softer stance on immigration and have pushed for bipartisan reforms.

Evangelical leaders have also been urging the president and congressional lawmakers for a permanent solution after Trump ended the DACA program. Earlier this year, the White House offered a controversial plan to cut legal immigration and approve $25 billion in border security in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for nearly 2 million illegal immigrants. It received just 39 votes in the Senate.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurns.

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