Sen. Graham slammed by extreme immigration group for supporting reform

Updated
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks on the phone in the reception room of the Senate.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks on the phone in the reception room of the Senate.
Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Numbers USA is doing what Numbers USA does best: Slamming conservatives for attempting immigration reform.

The lobby group, which advocates for a drastic reduction of immigration, is credited with scuttling immigration reform in 2007 by mobilizing their members to protest reform with their conservative representatives. Now that immigration reform is back on the table, they’re trying to do it again.

The group is starting with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the Republican members of the immigration Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of Senators who recently announced that they’d agreed on an outline to immigration reform. Numbers USA has purchased a six-figure radio and TV ad buy in South Carolina, attacking Graham, who is up for reelection next year.

“Who elected Lindsey Graham to demand millions more immigrant workers when so many South Carolinians are jobless?” the ad asks.

The ads started running last week on radio, broadcast, and cable television in South Carolina.

Graham is one of four GOP Senators working on immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants, something Numbers USA has derided as ‘mass amnesty.” The immigration outline also includes a number of provisions that conservatives, including Numbers USA, have long advocated for, like securing the border and creating a system for employers to verify worker’s immigration status.

“Who elected Graham to insist on more green cards for foreign workers when returning veterans can’t find jobs?” the latest ad asks.

The argument, like many of Numbers USA’s go-to causality arguments (“11 million illegal immigrants are keeping 7 million Americans out of jobs”) is illogical, according to Aaron Flanagan, a researcher who studies Numbers USA at the Center for New Community, an organization that seeks to fight organized racism in politics.

Flanagan pointed out that green cards for highly-skilled workers won’t displace veterans. “They’re trying to access the economic anxieties which all of us who don’t make hundreds of thousands of dollars like Roy Beck does have,” he added.

Graham’s upcoming reelection bid isn’t the only reason he is being targeted, Flanagan said.

“They feel like Graham is vulnerable from a political standpoint, but they also feel like there’s an audience for the ideas there—there’s a huge veteran population,” he said. “This is Jim DeMint’s backyard, too; the Heritage Foundation went from being very pro-immigration to going to the opposite end of the spectrum in the last 20 years, and Nikki Haley and Tim Scott are also very sympathetic to the anti-immigration arena.”

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Sen. Graham slammed by extreme immigration group for supporting reform

Updated