A campaign mailer from a U.S. Senate candidate in Alaska that depicts undocumented immigrants as gang members is drawing criticism.
The mailer, from the campaign of Joe Miller, a Republican, shows what appear to be gang members, full of tattoos, and warns that the incumbent senator, Democrat Mark Begich, “wants them to vote.”
Miller is running in the Aug. 19 primary to be the Republican contender against Begich.
The mailer, according to the Alaska Dispatch News, went out to households over the recent weekend.
It said: “If 20 million illegals vote, you can kiss the Second Amendment goodbye,” according to various published reports. It added: “Joe Miller is 100 percent pro gun, 100 percent against amnesty.”
Begich’s campaign accused Miller of trying to divert voters’ attention from more pressing, more relevant issues facing Alaskans.
The Dispatch News quoted a statement by Begich campaign spokesman Max Croes that said Miller was "spreading misinformation to avoid talking to Alaskans about Alaska issues."
It cited an immigration lawyer as saying that undocumented immigrants suspected of being gang members are deported and do not get the chance to legalize their status, much less to vote.
Last year, Begich cast a vote supporting a bipartisan Senate measure that called for a sweeping overhaul of immigration laws. The measure, which passed, included provisions for tightening border security, expanding guest worker visas, and providing a path to legal status for certain undocumented immigrants who meet a strict set of criteria.
"Senator Begich voted to double the number of border patrol agents, secure our border and require undocumented individuals to pay taxes and penalties before moving toward a path to citizenship," Croes said, according to the newspaper.
Several websites called Miller’s mailer xenophobic and seeking to inflame fears with false alarms.
“Candidate Joe Miller’s mailer comes at a time when he’s a distant third in Republican primary polls and his state’s three Republican Senate candidates are emphasizing immigration to win their party’s nomination ahead of next week’s GOP primary election,” said ThinkProgress.com
In 2010, Miller, an attorney, won the GOP primary, but lost to Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a general election write-in campaign.
Miller is running against Republicans Dan Sullivan, a former Alaska Attorney General, and Lt. Gov Mead Treadwell.