The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Earls (202) 494-8555

Sharron Angle Immigration Ads Prey on Fear, Crass Stereotypes

Backlash Among Latino Voters Likely


Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle has released another racially inflammatory and false ad attacking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for his support of federal immigration reform legislation, including the DREAM Act. It is one of the most offensive television ads of the 2010 election cycle to date.

The ad features footage of dark-skinned actors sneaking by a chain link fence, followed by images of white college students and workers as the narrator asks, "What does Harry Reid have against you?"

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, said: "This ad will go down in history as one of the most blatantly racist television ads of the 2010 cycle. Unfortunately, we've seen it before - politicians stirring the pot and stoking racial fears to scare up votes in the final weeks of an election. It brings back bad memories of the Willie Horton ad in 1988. Clearly, Sharron Angle has completely written off the Latino vote and is turning to scare tactics to try to motivate others. The parallels between her campaign and that of former California Governor Pete Wilson are striking-and will do irrevocable harm to the Nevada Republican Party with Latinos for generations to come."

Script of the Angle ad:

"Harry Reid voted to give special tax breaks to illegal aliens," the announcer says. "And Harry Reid voted to give Social Security benefits to illegals -- even for the time they were here illegally. And now Harry Reid is fighting for a program that would give preferred college tuition rates to none other than -- illegal aliens. Using your money to pay for it. Leading to a simple question: What does Harry Reid have against you?"

In September, Angle released an ad accusing Reid of being "the best friend an illegal alien ever had." Angle's fear-mongering relies on blatant stereotypes, and distorts the immigration policies Reid supports, to send a clear message to Nevadans: vote for me, or the state will be "overrun" by Latinos. This is an interesting approach given the growing Latino population in Nevada that is poised to make a difference in the close race between Angle and Reid. Latinos comprise 12.4% of the electorate in Nevada and Latino voter turnout has grown 164% from 2000 to 2008. Reid is a strong advocate for immigration reform policies that are supported not only by Latino voters, but the broader electorate.

Last week Tibi Ellis, the chair of the Nevada Republican Hispanic Caucus, who sometimes serves as a spokeswoman for Angle, condemned the candidate's immigration ads, saying: "I condemned this type of propaganda, no matter who is running them, where they blame Mexicans as the only problem and where they attack them as the only source of illegal immigration. I don't agree with that."

"Nevadans of all backgrounds will find these ads from Angle offensive, and rightfully so," said Sharry. "We expect our leaders to solve tough problems in a way that works for all Americans, not to pit groups against each other. The country needs common sense immigration reform, not candidates who think race-baiting and fear-mongering are acceptable."

America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America's Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.