Latino supporters of embattled Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer are demanding that her Republican rival, Cary Fiorina, condemn an independently funded attack ad that the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact website has rated as “FALSE.”
The Spanish-language television ad claims that the liberal Boxer “voted against immigration reform to permit our people to come here legally to work.”
According to PolitiFact, Boxer has long favored tougher border security and “also advocated a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States,” both policies that are hall-marks of comprehensive immigration reform.
Boxer did vote to eliminate a controversial guest worker program from a 2007 immigration bill, but PolitiFact notes “many immigration advocates feared it would create an environment where employers could abuse guest workers, because they could control whether that guest worker could return.”
“Barbara Boxer is asking for a permenant path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, “not a temporary guest worker program that will make things worse,” said Chris Arriola, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney who is also active in the La Raza Lawyers Association.
The attacks on Boxer are particularly disingenuous, said Arriola, because Fiorina has taken a hard line on immigration. Fiorina supports Arizona’s tough new immigration law and has said she opposes creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants until the border is secured.
The television ad was not funded by the Fiorina campaign but by an independent campaign committee called the Susan B. Anthony’s List, which supports female, anti-abortion candidates.
The ad was designed by the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, a project of a Washington-based conservative think called the American Priorities Project, which is affiliated with anti-government crusader Grover Norquist.
Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush administration official who heads up the Latino Partnership, argued that the advertisement’s critique of Boxer is factual because the guest worker program was a key part of a compromise that created bipartisan immigration reform legislation.
“Even liberals like Senator [Ted] Kennedy supported guest worker for this reason,” he said.
Aguilar doubts that Carly Fiorina will be able to secure a majority of Latino votes in California this November, but hopes the advertisement and other efforts by the Latino Partnership will boost the former Hewlett Packard CEO’s support from its current share of about 20 percent up to 35 percent.
“If we can do that, it will be enough to move the needle four or five percentage points to give Carly her margin of victory. That’s why they're running scared,” he said.
Aguilar said a majority of Latino voters supported Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage initiative. Many Latinos are also against abortion rights, he said, positions which are more in line with Fiorina’s stance than Boxers.
In addition to criticizing Boxer on immigration, the Latino Partnership’s advertisement also attacks Boxer for being pro-choice and for favoring gay marriage.
But analysts like Henry Fernandez of the Center for American Progress Action Fund said polls consistently show that Latino voters are unlikely to support candidates who oppose comprehensive immigration reform even if they agree with many of a cadidate's other positions.
“There’s a broader sense among conservatives that you have to get it right on immigration reform to win Latino votes,” he said. “That support for immigration reform is essential if you want to win statewide races in the west or get someone elected president."
The Boxer campaign and the Senator’s Latino supporters have asked Carly Fiorina to condemn the Latino Partnership’s ad, but in an e-mail correspondence Fiorina campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul refused to do so.
Like the Latino Partnership, Saul accused Boxer of trying to “kill immigration reform in 2007.”
“With that track record, it comes as no surprise that Boxer is trying to distract voters from the truth about her failure over 28 years on the issues their community cares about most,” she said.