CONCORD — Some 2,000 miles from nation’s southern border, New Hampshire has become a political battleground on the immigration issue, first in the U.S. Senate race and now in the 2nd District U.S. House Republican primary.
Former state Sen. Gary Lambert, after sending out a highly critical mailer earlier this week, has now gone on the television airwaves with an ad calling primary foe Marilinda Garcia a pro-amnesty liberal.
Lambert, a retired Marine, is trying to counter what has been a perception that Garcia is gaining momentum among conservatives. The state representative has been endorsed by political action committees for the Club for Growth and Freedom Works.
But now a resolution she signed onto in 2013 as a member of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, promoting “comprehensive immigration reform,” has surfaced and has been used as the basis not only for the mailer but also for the television ad. It appears to be the beginning of a strategy by Lambert and his campaign to try to show that Garcia is not as conservative as she promotes herself as being.
The resolution was passed July 2013 and ratified in November by the NHCSL – a nonpartisan 501-c3 that includes about 300 state legislators of Hispanic decent nationwide.
It can be found in its entirety here, but the key phrase being used by Lambert is:
“WHEREAS, Legalizing the undocumented population lets us know who is living within our nation’s borders and allows our public safety representatives and first responders to focus time and resources on criminal elements intent on threatening our nation, citizens, freedoms, and way of life.”
The resolution also applauds “members of Congress who have worked diligently to support responsible bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing immigration reform and promoting a comprehensive approach to fix a broken system that no longer works for our economy and security.”
“As the record clearly shows, Marilinda Garcia supports amnesty for illegal immigrants,” said Lambert in a statement accompanying the release of his television ad. “Representative Garcia sponsored a National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators resolution with 1 Republican and 12 Democrats which called for ‘legalizing the undocumented population.’ If that’s not amnesty, I don’t know what is.”
“Voters want to know where candidates stand on amnesty,” he said. “On this issue, the differences between the two of us is clear; Marilinda Garcia supports amnesty and I do not. I believe we need to secure our border immediately and enforce the laws of our country.”
In his first television ad of the campaign, Lambert begins by pledging to “stop (President Barack) Obama’s amnesty.” A narrator then says, “Gary Lambert for Congress. Marilinda Garcia for amnesty.”
The narrator says Garcia “endorsed Obama’s amnesty plan, giving citizenship to illegals. Obama and Garcia. Two liberals for amnesty.”
The mailer sounded a similar theme, calling Garcia “soft on illegal immigration,” contending, “Garcia’s group wants to give over $100 billion in taxpayer-funded benefits to illegal immigrants – including Social Security and Medicare.”
Garcia supporters say she joined the group to bring a conservative voice to the NHCS and did not renew her membership after last year.
Garcia’s campaign insisted the resolution was not calling for amnesty.
Campaign spokesman Kenny Cunningham said, “It is telling that instead of introducing himself to New Hampshire voters, Gary Lambert is using his first television ad to tear down a fellow Republican candidate, using his usual lies and exaggerations to do so.”
Cunningham said, “Marilinda Garcia does not support amnesty for illegal immigrants. Gary Lambert’s attempt to suggest otherwise is dishonest. He appears willing to say or do anything to get elected. Just like Barack Obama, he wants to use this issue for political purposes instead of putting real solutions on the table.
“The resolution cited in the ad is simply an effort by Marilinda to put a solution on the table – a solution that does not include amnesty. She believes the fact that millions of people are in the U.S. illegally, making money, not paying taxes, and often receiving taxpayer funded benefits, is a real problem. Figuring out how to deal with this problem – starting with getting them to pay their taxes — is her goal.”
Here is the Lambert television ad: