Top Immigrant Rights Group Targets Democratic Senators With Ads on Path to Citizenship

United We Dream, a top national immigrant rights group, is launching a digital ad campaign targeting moderate Democratic senators and leadership in the hope of creating a pathway to citizenship even without Republican support, Newsweek has learned.

The five-figure campaign will feature young immigrants calling on Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly of Arizona, Colorado's John Hickenlooper, Dick Durbin of Illinois, as well as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Joe Biden, to deliver a path to citizenship for Dreamers, temporary protected status (TPS) holders, and farmworkers.

The ads will run on Facebook, Youtube, and Google Search in the senators' home states as well as in Washington D.C. They are part of United We Dream's "Undeniable" video storytelling series, which features young Black and Brown immigrants telling their stories, and explaining how a path to citizenship would help them and their families.

"The undocumented community has been waiting for a breakthrough for the last 35 years through seven presidents, four years of Trump, and millions of deportations of our loved ones," Greisa Martinez, the executive director of United We Dream, told Newsweek.

She said she wouldn't call it an attack ad campaign.

"This is our call for Democrats to be bold and deliver for 11 million people," she said. "It's not an attack ad, it's ensuring we're really clear with our champions to know that we have their backs but that the time to deliver is now."

The increased pressure comes at a time when a Biden-proposed overhaul of the country's immigration laws is stalled in the Senate and the White House has turned its attention to shepherding a massive infrastructure package through Congress.

Immigration activists are worried that time is slipping away, and have proposed immigration planks like a path to citizenship be included in the infrastructure bill or pushed through reconciliation in the Senate without Republican support, which some Democrats like Manchin have balked at this year.

United We Dream argues action on immigration and delivering citizenship to millions of people is a bipartisan issue, separate and apart from the Republican tactic to delay doing anything on the matter.

"Poll after poll tells us this country is ready to support citizenship for millions of people," Martinez said. "Whether Lindsey Graham or Ted Cruz, who supported Trump's agenda, are ready to deliver for their own constituents is its own issue. It has been too long and our answer is we cannot wait."

An enduring talking point among immigration activists is that the principles they tirelessly advocate for are broadly popular among Americans, even if politicians on both sides act as if the issue itself is politically thorny.

A new poll conducted by the centrist think tank Center Forward reinforced this view, finding that 74% of likely voters support legislation that would create an earned path to citizenship for farmworkers, TPS holders, and Dreamers. Advocates were briefed on the poll Monday by John Anzalone, one of Biden's top campaign pollsters, Politico reported.

The new ad push comes just two weeks after a coalition of advocacy groups demonstrated in front of Vice President Kamala Harris' residence to call for for a pathway to citizenship, chanting "VP Harris fight for us, you are one of us," as well as "Be our VIP (Vice Immigrant President)."

United We Dream says that much like its ad campaign is pushing Democratic senators to use every tool in their arsenal to pass relief for immigrants, it intends to do the same, up to and including protests known as "direct action." It has made calls and held actions in Florida and Texas, and will continue to do so in states including Colorado, Illinois, and West Virginia—the latter three states where the ads targeting senators are also running.

"We're going to use every tool at our disposal to make sure we deliver this year," Martinez said.

Sinema and Manchin
In the photo on the left, Sinema at the U.S. Capitol on February 10 and in the photo on the right, Manchin departs from the U.S. Capitol on February 11 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Joshua Roberts-Pool/Getty Images