US Koch-backed group gives boost to Democrats on immigration

12:56  17 may  2018
12:56  17 may  2018 Source:   cnn.com

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a man holding a sign © ROBYN BECK/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

An immigration-overhaul advocacy group backed by the influential Koch brothers is sending out a series of political mailers aimed at backing pro-immigration members of Congress -- including a handful of Democrats.

The billionaire Koch brothers are some of the most prolific political donors, and they traditionally back politically conservative causes and candidates.

But among the group of lawmakers being supported by the mailers from the LIBRE Initiative are five Democrats, including the chairman of the Democrats' House campaign arm and the chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

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The LIBRE Initiative is a Koch-backed group, technically nonpartisan, that advocates for conservative principles specifically among Hispanic Americans. The mailers announced Thursday are part of a broader initiative that includes TV and digital advertising as well as in-person advocacy for a solution for young undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and were protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Trump is ending, as well as for border security.

The mailers are being sent to the districts of vulnerable Republicans and others who have supported immigration compromises this year, which thus far have been unsuccessful, as well as a handful of Democrats who have been particularly active on the issue.

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The mailers feature the lawmaker's picture and say, "Thank You (lawmaker) for supporting a permanent solution for Dreamers," a term used to describe the young undocumented immigrants derived from the Dream Act that would protect them. The other side of the mailer encourages voters to thank the lawmaker and urge them to keep working on "certainty for Dreamers (and) security for our borders."

The bipartisan targets reflect a frustration within the Koch network with congressional dysfunction and a stated desire to go beyond party labels.

The mailers will support Reps. Jeff Denham, R-California; Mark Amodei, R-Nevada; David Valadao, R-California; Will Hurd, R-Texas; Mike Coffman, R-Colorado; Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida; Ben Lujan, D-New Mexico; Raul Ruiz, D-California; Pete Aguilar, D-California; Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-New Mexico; and Sens. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma; Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota; and Chris Coons, D-Delaware.

In a statement, LIBRE President Daniel Garza said, "Sitting on the sidelines ... is not an option."

"Our nation deserves leaders that are willing to take on the big issues facing our communities," Garza said. "Failure to change the status quo would hinder economic opportunity, limit the potential of Dreamers, and contribute to insecurity at the border."

Most of the lawmakers on the House side are currently pushing an effort to buck Republican leadership and force a vote on a bipartisan bill authored by Hurd and Aguilar, as well as other DACA proposals.

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