Amid a tough reelection bid, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas is airing a Spanish-language TV ad saying he supports the DREAM Act, even though he twice voted against it and once called its attempted passage a "political stunt."The DREAM Act would extend legal status to certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. It's been brought up multiple times in Congress during the past two decades, only to be derailed by immigration hardliners, mostly in Cornyn's Republican Party.
"While the rest of Washington yells at each other, Texas has a calm and firm hand caring for us: Sen. John Cornyn," a voiceover in the new TV spot says in Spanish amid a montage of the U.S. Capitol, the border wall and Latinx schoolchildren.
"And while Senator Cornyn is in favor of secure borders, he firmly supports the legalization of Dreamers," the voice continues, using a term frequently used to describe immigrants who arrive in the U.S. as children.
Democrat MJ Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot, is challenging Cornyn in the November election, prompting an uncharacteristically heavy ad buy from the three-term incumbent.
Although Cornyn voted for the DREAM Act in 2003, he subsequently voted to block its passage — once in 2007 and again in 2010 — arguing that it would lead to "chain migration" and widespread fraud. Cornyn blasted the latter effort to pass the act as a "political football in a political stunt."
"It had all of the hallmarks of a cynical effort to use the hopes and dreams of these young people as a political wedge in the run-up to the 2012 election," Cornyn said at the time.
During a call with reporters, Frank Sharry, executive director of progressive group America’s Voice, described Cornyn as a politician who publicly talks up immigration reform but consistently works to stymie it. In 2006, for example, Democrats accused Cornyn of inserting a "poison pill" amendment into a bipartisan bill that could have become the most expansive immigration overhaul in 20 years.
"Cornyn’s claim that he strongly supports the legalization of Dreamers is a bald-faced lie," Sharry said. "When you look up the phrase 'two-faced politician,' you’ll find a photo of John Cornyn."
Immigrant-rights activist Julieta Garibay said Cornyn has shown no interest over the years in helping Dreamers or enacting serious immigration reform.
"In my 15 years organizing, countless times we went to his office in D.C. and had actions in his offices across the state to no avail," she added. "To be clear, Cornyn is anti-immigrant, anti-Dreamer and anti-worker."
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.