New ad demonizes immigrant parents who qualify for Biden's child tax credit

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The latest ad from the American Action Network is loaded with dishonest claims.

A new dark money ad aimed at stopping President Joe Biden's Build Back Better jobs plan falsely claims the proposal includes $80 billion in "handouts for illegal immigrants." But the funds in question would actually go to support children who are U.S.-born citizens.

The ad, being run in Arizona by the American Action Network, urges Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halloran to "protect" the state's border and oppose what it calls House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "tax and spending scam."

"Liberals spend your money but take care of themselves. It's a cynical Washington game," a narrator says in the 30-second spot. "Two hundred million for a park in Pelosi's district. Special tax breaks for Hollywood, the media, elite liberal universities. They're even giving 80 billion in handouts for illegal immigrants, while most small businesses face a tax hike and working people pay more but get less."

The $80 billion figure is sourced to an Oct. 5 story on the right-wing site the Federalist about a report by the Center for Immigration Studies, which has been designated an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The story and report argue that undocumented parents and guardians of U.S.-born children would receive some $8.2 billion annually from an expanded child tax credit. Over 10 years, the total would be about $80 billion. Both sources acknowledge that the families were already eligible for funds under the old version of the child tax credit, but would now get more.

But the funds are hardly a "handout" for the undocumented, despite the ad and the report aimed at demonizing the immigrant parents of children eligible for the credit.

The purpose of the credit, worth up to $300 a month per child and enacted for 2021 as part of Biden's American Rescue Plan, is to reduce childhood poverty. An August report by analysts at Columbia University's Center on Poverty and Social Policy found that the program had lifted 3 million children out of poverty in the first month and said, "If all likely-eligible children are covered, it has the potential to reduce monthly child poverty by up to 40 percent on its own." Biden and congressional Democrats hope to extend the program as part of the jobs package.

The false claims that the plan would hurt most small businesses and working families has also been debunked, and the $200 million in park funding would go to improvements to the Presidio of San Francisco, a national park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay that is visited by 7.5 million people annually.

The American Action Network was created in 2010 and is chaired by former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota. As a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt group, it need not and does not disclose who funds its multi-million dollar operations to defeat Democratic candidates and policies.

The new ad is part of a $20 million spending spree by the organization aimed at defeating Biden's agenda. The group is running an array of other dishonest ads targeting swing-district Democrats and urging them to vote against the Build Back Better plan.

In a press release posted on Oct. 20, the group's president claimed, "This bill has become so incredibly toxic back home because Americans know that they're getting the raw end of the deal. ... Any Member of Congress would be foolish to even think about supporting it."

In reality, poll after poll has shown that most American voters back the plan and its individual provisions.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.