Originally published by The Hill
The Koch Network is using its immigration initiative LIBRE to back a number of Democrats that are working to find a permanent legal solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
The mega-donor brothers are known for their regular backing of conservative causes, donating millions of dollars to back GOP candidates, but NPR reports that the LIBRE initiative is raising money to protect Democrats who have shown a willingness to work on finding a legislative fix for DACA while also backing stronger border security initiatives.
“This stands out. People when they talk about the Koch network … they point at areas like tax reform, where we’ve worked very closely with Republican members,” Wadi Gaitan, a spokesman for LIBRE, told NPR.
“Here on this issue, we have Democrats where we want to make sure that their constituents are aware that they are working on a permanent solution for Dreamers and on border security,” he added. “So it certainly is a unique effort.”
One mailer funded by the Koch Network offers praise for Delaware Sen. Christopher Coons (D), noting that “more than 90% of Americans want protection for the Dreamers.”
“Thank you Sen. Coons for supporting a permanent solution for Dreamers,” it adds.
Not all the ads are directed at Democrats. Six GOP House lawmakers and three senators will receive praise from the group, NPR reports, and the Koch Network plans to spend nearly $400 million defending GOP seats this cycle.
The LIBRE network told NPR that the project was part of a “seven-figure” spending effort by the Koch Network aimed at finding a permanent fix for the “Dreamer” issue. According to Gaitan, future ads will target TV and digital audiences while the group also branches out into congressional advocacy, including working with more Democrats.
“In order to get this through the House and Senate, it is important for Democrats to be at the table … for us, it’s how do we achieve the goal?” Gaitan said. “And what we said is we’re willing to work with whoever to make sure that we’re getting good policy through Congress.”
The Trump administration announced last year that it would end the Obama-era DACA program that granted protected status to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, sometimes called Dreamers.
Congress originally hoped to pass a permanent legislative fix for the nearly 2 million immigrants affected by the decision before March 5, when the first protections began to end, but were unable to come to an agreement.
Since the decision last year, several federal courts have ruled that the Trump administration must maintain the Obama-era program, and this week a California-based federal appeals court appeared unlikely to toss out a lower court ruling forcing the program to be maintained.
In March, the Supreme Court rejected a request from the Trump administration to take up the case, leaving the ruling for a lower court.