A Democratic political ad is under fire from Hispanics who say it unfairly compares Latino immigrants to terrorists.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sponsored a 35-second ad on its Web site that shows footage of two people scaling a border fence mixed with images of Osama Bin Laden and North Korea President Kim Jong Il.
Pedro Celis, chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said in a statement Tuesday that the DSCC should remove the ad because it vilifies illegal Hispanic immigrants and is “appalling.”
Houston City Councilwoman Carol Alvarado, a Democrat, sent a letter to DSCC Chairman Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record) of New York asking that the ad be pulled. She said it could alienate Latino voters.
“To liken Latino immigrants to bazooka-toting terrorists not only undermines the positive relationship our party has with this community, but also lowers us to a despicable level as breeders of unfounded fear and hatred,” Alvarado wrote.
The ad opens with the words “Security Under Bush and GOP?” It features scenes of a masked man with a bazooka, scenes from terrorist attacks and police inspecting a subway train. It also shows Osama bin Laden, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a docked ship as it claims “4 times as many terrorist attacks in 2005.”
Then comes footage of a person climbing over a corrugated metal border fence and another preparing to climb it as the words “millions more illegal immigrants” form on-screen. In the following scene, viewers see the words “North Korea has quadrupled its nuclear arsenal” with footage of a tank and North Korea President Kim Jong Il.
The ad ends with the words, “Feel safer? Vote for change.”
“Equating these undocumented migrants to the very real threats of terrorism is inexcusable and only serves to fan the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment in our country,” Celis said in the statement.
The faces of the people climbing over the fence are not clearly visible and there is nothing in the ad confirming the people in the ad are Hispanic. Such scenes are often captured in footage of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Bettina Inclan, the assembly’s executive director, said the people in the ad appeared Hispanic, “not just to us, but to other people who saw the video.”
DSCC spokesman Phil Singer dismissed the group’s criticism as a Republican group “trying to gloss over the White House’s abysmal record on security.”
“This group’s time would be better spent pressuring reluctant Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform,” Singer said in an emailed statement.
Inclan said the group was among supporters of the bipartisan Senate immigration bill, which passed the Senate but has been criticized in the House.
The ad drew rebuke from other Hispanics.
“This is the same kind of fear mongering we condemn in the extreme media and now we are seeing it at the DSCC,” said Lisa Navarrete, spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza. “It’s appalling.”
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