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Mid-term Election: Radio Ads Critical of Democratic Senators' Anti-Immigrant Policies to Run in Key Battlefield States

First Posted: Oct 11, 2014 08:56 AM EDT

Presente Action, the largest online Latino organization with 300,000 members, began a campaign last month on social media site Facebook, criticizing incumbent democrats in four battleground states for not supporting immigration reform.

On Thursday Presente Action began an advertising campaign on Spanish radio in North Carolina -- WGSP-FM in Charlotte and WIST-FM in Greensboro, Winston Salem -- critical of Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., for what they claim are her moves against immigrant families.

In English the ads read, "More than 1,000 Latino migrant are deported each day. The Republicans have become a party that is completely anti-immigrant and many Democrats are following in their footsteps. When there was a solution within reach, Sen. Kay Hagan stood opposed. Sen. Hagan voted with the most anti-immigrant senators in Congress in support of the continued deportations of our community."

According to 2012 figures from Democracy NC, there are 830,000 Latinos in North Carolina, but only 2 percent are registered to vote, or 115,000. Sixty percent came out to vote in 2012.

The radio ads follow an advertising campaign on Facebook that was also critical of three other Democratic senators -- Mark Pryor from Arkansas, Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, and Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire.

 "Latinos are sick of being treated as a political football by Democrats like Senator Kay Hagan and Republicans alike," said Arturo Carmona, the executive director of Presente Action. "Our families matter, our lives matter, and this ad is meant to remind Senator Hagan of that. Much like Republicans have, Senator Hagan has worked to tear our families apart, and now we urge Latinos across the state to think twice before casting a ballot in her name."

Latin Post contacted Senator Hagan's campaign office for comment and received the following statement:

"Kay is the only candidate in this election who, along with Senator John McCain, has voted for bipartisan immigration reform that will boost North Carolina's economy. This is another in a long line of issues where Kay is fighting for a bipartisan commonsense solution while Speaker Tillis continues to play politics."

Hagan is running against businessman Thom Tillis, a Republican candidate for the Senate seat.

Presente Action's Mariana Ruiz responded to Hagan's comment.

"Sen. Kay Hagan has certainly played politics with Latino lives and families. We were on the verge of Executive Action by the President to stop deportations -- and Sen. Hagan used her sway to keep our families in the cross-hairs until after the elections," Ruiz said. "She voted against the Dream Act, voted to defund DACA, and voted to limit the President's power over deferred action. Both Republican and Democrats have repeatedly used Latino communities as a political football to be thrown back and forth at whim, and we won't stand for it any longer."

Did Ruiz think there was a risk of returning a Republican-majority Senate by not supporting the Democratic candidate, particularly in battleground states like North Carolina?

"It was a difficult decision to make. We don't want the Republicans to win because they are not friendly to immigrants typically, in fact tend to support xenophobic policy and rhetoric," Ruiz said."But in this case we have seen the President (Obama) delay twice, he delayed at the beginning of the summer and we organized around that, and he delayed again at the end of the summer, and he delayed largely to political pressure from the Democratic party and a week later you have these four Senators come out not only in battleground states, they are deciding to throw in their lot with someone like Ted Cruz and stand up against Executive Action."

Ruiz added, "We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are putting Latinos in the position of having to choose between bad and worse, and we have 11 million members of our community suffering in the shadows, and not just Latinos, seeing their families torn apart, so it was a decision we had to make."

So what is Presente Action recommending to voters?

"If we are faced with one party that is out and out racist supporting xenophobic laws, and you have the other party that says we are going to turn our backs on you and there is nothing you can do about it. Where do we go from here?" Ruiz said. "Unless we are willing to take the stand that we are not going to vote for their party until they really represent our community then we have no other choice to make. We want people to go out and exercise their vote, and if there is an independent candidate in the four battleground states vote for them."

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