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Las Vegas Sun: Dean Heller Gets an A+ Rating from Anti-Immigrant Group

by Mahwish Khan on 09/27/2012 at 11:21am

Earlier this week, America’s Voice unveiled our spotlight on six key Senate races of importance to Latino and immigrant voters—and all those who care about common-sense immigration reform.  We evaluated the power of the Latino voter community in each state and summarized where each U.S. Senate candidate stands on the issue.

One of the contests we included is the Nevada Senate race between Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D) and incumbent Senator Dean Heller (R). The race is rated as a “Toss Up” by the Cook Political Report. According to LatinoVoteMap.org, Latinos comprise 14.2 % of the electorate in Nevada.

Today, The Las Vegas Sun profiled our inclusion of the Berkley-Heller race:

It is no surprise, then, that the group favors Berkley’s history when it comes to immigration. Berkley, a Democrat, supports the Dream Act, for example, while Heller, a Republican, does not. The organization’s report says the Heller campaign has learned from the mistakes of Sharron Angle’s failed 2010 Senate bid and has taken a softer approach on immigration.

“This cycle, with the fate of the Senate again in the balance, Heller has opted to reach out to Latino voters through gauzy, biography-heavy Spanish-language ads and vague policy language on his Spanish-language website — hoping to obscure his opposition to birthright citizenship and his vote against the Dream Act in the House in 2010,” the America’s Voice report states. “On the other hand his opponent Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Dream co-sponsor who fought to put the bill on the national Democratic platform, is keen to remind Latinos that Heller’s record is anti-immigrant.”

While America’s Voice is in Berkley’s corner, other immigration advocacy groups have thrown their endorsements behind Heller.

NumbersUSA, a group that seeks to lower immigration numbers, grades politicians on immigration issues. While Dean Heller scores a perfect A+, Shelley Berkley took home a D+.

The restrictionist immigration organization and political action committee Americans for Legal Immigration has also endorsed Heller, who in the past has advocated for English-only ballots and an end to birthright citizenship.

A candidate has to be extremely anti-immigrant to garner that coveted A+ rating from NumbersUSA. As our report indicates, Heller fits that bill. Here’s the full excerpt on Nevada’s Senate race:

Republican Senator Dean Heller wants to end birthright citizenship in the United States—but you wouldn’t know it from his campaign materials. Heller has learned from his party’s experience in Nevada in 2010, when Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s decision to make anti-immigrant attacks the centerpiece of her campaign backfired.  Instead of being intimidated out of voting, Latinos (14.7% of the state’s voters and 26.5% of its residents) turned up in droves to support Senator Harry Reid, as part of a “Latino firewall” stretching across the West that saved the Senate for the Democrats.

This cycle, with the fate of the Senate again in the balance, Heller has opted to reach out to Latino voters through gauzy, biography-heavy Spanish-language ads and vague policy language on his Spanish-language website—hoping to obscure his opposition to birthright citizenship and his vote against the DREAM Act in the House in 2010.  On the other hand his opponent Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley, a DREAM co-sponsor who fought to put the bill on the national Democratic platform, is keen to remind Latinos that Heller’s record is anti-immigrant.

On top of the candidates’ own campaigns, Latinos in Nevada are being targeted by grassroots efforts to mobilize them to vote—and Astroturfed efforts to keep them from the polls.  Will Dean Heller be able to hide his true colors from Latino voters, or will Berkley succeed in outing him?

For more, see America’s Voice’s Senate Spotlight on Nevada.

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