A national teachers union is targeting two South Florida Republicans in an ad campaign pressuring members of Congress to force a vote on a replacement for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
President Donald Trump has announced he’s ending the Obama-era immigration program that allows immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to obtain work permits and reside here without fear of deportation. Trump has challenged Congress to come up with a different solution for about 800,000 so-called Dreamers.
Miami U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have advocated for legislative solutions to help Dreamers. The American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation’s largest teachers unions, argues that the Republicans haven’t done enough.
AFT began airing 30-second commercials on Pandora online radio streams last week attacking several Republicans from around the country, including Curbelo. The union would not specify how much money it is spending on the campaign.
“Congressman Curbelo says he’s on the right side of the issue, but the leadership from his party is preventing a vote,” a voice reads in one of the ads. “Congressman Curbelo needs to stand up to the GOP leadership.”
Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Curbelo, called the ad “disingenuous” and “obviously designed to mislead people.” The congressman proposed bills last year and this year that would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers. He also voted against a spending bill in December because Congress had not yet acted on DACA.
“No one in Congress, Republican or Democrat, has done more to force a compromise to help Dreamers than Congressman Curbelo,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
AFT also bought ads on Facebook and POLITICO’s website calling out Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen.
A spokesman for Ros-Lehtinen said in an email that the AFT should focus on convincing undecided members of Congress rather than attacking “one of Dreamers’ biggest champions.” Ros-Lehtinen has sponsored a federal proposal known as the Dream Act.
AFT expects changes to DACA will impact many students and teachers.
The Florida Education Association, a statewide teachers’ union, is a member of AFT.