WASHINGTON — An advocacy group affiliated with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched a nationwide ad on Monday that implores House Republicans to act this election year on legislation overhauling the nation's immigration system.
"Why are House Republicans cooling, retreating and even privately saying they'd rather do nothing this year?" the 60-second spot asks, then adds, "Nothing won't do. Call House Republicans today. Tell them we've waited long enough, pass immigration reform."
The commercial comes as rank-and-file House Republicans are reluctant to tackle the divisive issue in the months leading up to the midterm congressional elections, wary that a high-profile fight will undercut their upbeat prospects for increasing their majority in the House and seizing control of the Senate.
House GOP leaders unveiled a set of principles on immigration in January, but the optimism among advocates was dashed when Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, blamed GOP distrust of President Barack Obama for the House's inability to move forward on legislation.
The new commercial is slated to run in all 50 states at a cost of $500,000. Council for American Job Growth, an affiliate of the group FWD.us, is sponsoring the ad. Zuckerberg launched the advocacy group FWD.us with the support of Silicon Valley titans such as Bill Gates and Sean Parker and the organization has been one of the most active on the immigration issue.
"The future of this country, our country, is tied to immigration reform," says the spot, which warns of stagnant job growth and loss of tax revenue if Congress fails to act.
An unusual coalition of business groups, labor and religious organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the nation's Catholic bishops, has pressed for immigration legislation with little signs of progress in the House.
The Senate passed a comprehensive bill last June that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally, tighten border security and add new visa and workplace enforcement programs. The legislation has stalled in the House where Republicans have rejected a comprehensive approach in favor of piecemeal legislation. The House, however, hasn't voted on any of the individual bills passed by the Judiciary Committee last year.