Competing for the anti-illegal immigration vote, U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian on Monday revealed a new TV ad that smacks down U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, calling it "nothing more than a bailout for those who break the rules."
Tarkanian proposed stopping all benefits for illegal immigrants as the Republican campaigned in Las Vegas and Reno with Jim Gilchrist, co-founder of the Minuteman Project, which has fought for tougher U.S. border security and sent armed supporters to confront people trying to sneak across.
"He is one of the few candidates who has taken a proactive stance against this illegal immigration crisis," said Gilchrist, who has endorsed Tarkanian’s campaign.
Actually, Tarkanian, Las Vegas Assemblyman Chad Christensen and former Reno Assemblywoman Sharron Angle have all raised a sudden GOP outcry against illegal immigration in the last few weeks of the primary campaign with early voting starting May 22 and Election Day on June 8.
It’s a popular conservative stance with about eight out of 10 Nevada Republicans opposed to offering illegal immigrants in the United States a path to citizenship, according to a mid-April poll commissioned by the Review-Journal. The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey also showed only two in 10 Democrats against the idea.
Talking tough on immigration also is a way for Tarkanian and other Republicans in the dozen-strong GOP primary field to try to catch GOP front-runner Sue Lowden, who has taken a more moderate stand, arguing for better enforcement of current laws and stronger border security.
"They’re all feeling the need to be vocal and adamant and clear on this issue," said Kenneth Fernandez, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "If we were facing a general election rather than a June primary, I think the rhetoric would be toned down a bit."
Tarkanian, in contrast to Lowden, wants to cut social and health benefits for illegal immigrants, which cost Nevada an estimated $700 million a year. Now, states provide education for children of illegal immigrants and emergency and some other health care, mostly because of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. But Tarkanian argues the state could pass a law that could meet a constitutional test.
"We need to eliminate all incentives to illegal immigrants, no more jobs and certainly no more taxpayer funded benefits," Tarkanian says in his new 30-second TV ad shot at Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas, a rough desert landscape that might resemble some border areas.
America remains "a land of opportunity" for immigrants, Tarkanian says in the ad, adding however that people must follow the rules and work hard to be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
"Illegal immigration is hurting America and Harry Reid’s amnesty plan is nothing more than a bailout for those who break the rules," Tarkanian says in the ad.
The Reid campaign rejected the "amnesty" label, saying the Democratic leader advocates illegal immigrants "paying back taxes, going to the end of the line and paying fines and penalties."
"Another day, another lie from Danny Tarkanian on immigration," Reid campaign spokesman Kelly Steele said. "Senator Reid continues to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that will secure our borders, crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers and bring the roughly 12 million people who are here undocumented out of the shadows.
"The fact that Danny Tarkanian continues to demagogue this serious issue with false claims about amnesty shows he’ll do or say anything he thinks will help him get elected," Steele added.
Reid’s immigration reform plan could appeal to Nevada’s 25 percent Hispanic population, an important voting bloc, since it could provide an eventual path to U.S. citizenship.
"I’m going to move immigration as quickly a I can," Reid said Sunday on "Al Punto," on the Spanish language network Univision, although he acknowledged he might not get enough GOP support.
"Even people who are Hispanics who, identify as being Republican, are walking away from the Republicans" because of the immigration issue, Reid said. "This is an anti-immigrant party."
Contact reporter Laura Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2919.Tarkanian campaign ad on immigration