Tuesday is Election Day, and voters across the country will be waiting to learn who will represent them at different levels of government for the coming years. The organized anti-immigrant movement is also paying close attention to these races – particularly in the highly contested U.S. Senate – in hopes that candidates who are more supportive of its nativist agenda will have cause to celebrate.
Here are five races the anti-immigrant movement has its eyes on.
Incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu faces a challenge from Rep. Bill Cassidy in a race that many believe could determine which party controls the Senate next year. However, due to Louisiana’s jungle primary system, Republican candidate Rob Maness, a signer of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) anti-immigrant pledge, could force a runoff election should neither Landrieu nor Cassidy garner 50 percent of the vote. Anti-immigrant front group Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) is airing an ad in the state depicting current immigration policies as being nearly as devastating for Louisianans, especially for blacks and African Americans, as Hurricane Katrina. As part of a recent seven-figure advertising buy, NumbersUSA is also running an ad in the state insinuating that immigrants create economic adversity for native-born residents.
NumbersUSA is also running an ad in The Natural State where incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton face off in another widely-covered race. The race has had plenty of media-worthy moments including one candidate recently conflating immigration policy and national security concerns to stoke fear and claim members of the Islamic State terrorist group may eventually attack people in Arkansas.
Former U.S. Senator for Massachusetts Scott Brown is now running in New Hampshire seeking to unseat incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. NumbersUSA is also airing its television ad in The Granite State, and the Center for Immigration Studies has sought to inject more distortions regarding immigration issues into the campaign with a recent dubious report contrasting immigrants’ employment gains to that of native-born residents.
Michelle Nunn and David Perdue are vying for retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat in another race many believe could determine which party controls the Senate next year. The race may likely be affected by a judge’s decision not to intervene in a lawsuit charging that 56,000 voter registration applications have gone missing. The result means that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp will not be investigated.
The race between incumbent Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Cory Gardner is also highly contested and will likely be determined by Latino voters. However, as The Denver Post notes, some polls suggest Latino voter turnout may be relatively low and some Latinos are “disenchanted after years of inaction on immigration reform.”
Driver cards and voter suppression
Elsewhere, voters in Oregon will consider Measure 88, which will grant an option for driving rights to undocumented immigrants. If voters approve the measure, Oregon would become one of 12 states in the U.S. to allow driver’s cards for undocumented immigrants. The move has faced fierce nativist opposition.
“The measure makes sense because it makes drivers know the rules of the road, and it is not a proxy for immigration laws,” said Becky Straus, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon, told Fox News Latino. “It has nothing to do with immigration but instead it’s about drivers’ safety and civil liberties.”
In Illinois, voters will weigh in on a “Right to Vote” amendment, which is, at least in part, meant to discourage Voter ID requirements similar to those in Texas. Proponents of the amendment say proof of citizenship requirements, which have been promoted heavily by anti-immigrant actors, disenfranchise low-income people and communities of color.
“It is definitely, definitely intended to discourage voter ID laws,” Sen. Kwame Raoul said. “If you cast a vote for this, you are casting a vote against voter ID laws.”
In Kansas, voters will also determine whether to re-elect Secretary of State Kris Kobach who has worked throughout the last year to suppress voter turnout and influence Kansas’ US Senate election. A SurveyUSA poll released last week shows Kobach and challenger Jean Schodorf tied at 45-45.
No matter the outcome of tomorrow elections, we must continue working towards making our society more just and inclusive – ensuring our democracy is representative of all who wish to participate.