Latino Group Calls Louisiana Political Ad Offensive

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana is urging U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican running for re-election in the state, to pull a TV ad they call "offensive."

The ad attacks Vitter’s Democratic opponent, Charlie Melancon, on immigration, claiming he made it easier for undocumented immigrants to get taxpayer-funded benefits like welfare.Melancon’s votes "might as well put out a welcome sign for illegal aliens," the announcer intones.

The chamber cried foul over the ad partly because it only shows Hispanics – they said undocumented immigrants come from around the world.

"The ad shows a Hollywood stereotype image of Latino workers – all Latinos – sneaking through an opening in a chain link fence and laughing about how easy it is to keep returning," said Darlene Kattan, executive director of the chamber of commerce, in an e-mail forwarded to The Associated Press by the Louisiana Democratic Party. "Vitter has chosen to play the fear card and make everyone afraid of the Latinos, and the message has been so offensive."

In response to the chamber's objection, Vitter’s office sent out a statement saying only that the senator believes in a legal immigration process for those who want to pursue the American dream.

“But Charlie Melancon’s votes making it easy for illegals to get taxpayer-funded benefits, highlighted in the ad, are offensive to the Senator and many, many Louisianians," the statement said.

Melancon called the TV spot a "cookie-cutter ad" that's also being run in Nevada and that doesn't accurately reflect his voting record.

"I have consistently voted against illegal immigrants getting benefits whenever it came up as a direct issue," he said, a caveat that leaves open the possibility he's voted for those benefits if they were included in other, unrelated legislation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.