A fourth group of nonprofits has joined the TV and advertising blitz targeting U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy's position on immigration reform, three days before a pro-immigration rally in downtown Bakersfield.
And this time it's personal.
Two Washington, D.C.-based groups, the PICO Action Fund, an organizer of the Pilgrimage for a Pathway to Citizenship, a march from Sacramento to the Bakersfield rally, and the Faith in Public Life Action Fund, which promotes public faith for the common good, have spent $10,640 to produce a pro-immigration radio ad for Kern County listeners.
It airs Monday through Friday on FM radio stations KKBB 99.3, KRJK 97.3 and KUZZ 107.9.
Unlike three other groups, which use announcers in ongoing TV and radio advertisements to speak for and against McCarthy, this ad uses local residents to spread its message.
"I have legal status to study and work, but my parents, they don't," Cal State Bakersfield senior Lorena Lara says in the new radio ad. "Every day, I pray my parents won't be deported."
She's then joined by Sister Marie Francis Schroepfer, who is assistant coordinator of the Fresno Diocesian Social Justice Ministry in Bakersfield.
Schroepfer reminds listeners that "there are thousands of families just like Lorena's," and urges them to call McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and tell him "to support a earned path to citizenship for people like Lorena and her family so that they, too, can fully live out their God-given gifts in America."
"I think it's important as a constituent of his district to say, 'Congressman McCarthy, this is the reality. My story is one of just many in your district.' He's the (House) majority whip, meaning he's the third most important Republican in the country. He has a lot of influence," Lara said in an interview.
Like her parents, Lara is here illegally, but she secured deferred action status for herself last year after President Obama signed a memo calling for the deferred removal of people who are under age 31, came here before age 16, are in school or have completed high school, and have not been convicted of a crime.
"It's appropriate that Kevin McCarthy is a national political leader and a national political target," said Gordon Whitman, executive director of the PICO Action Fund. "He has decision-making power that, except (House Speaker John) Boehner and (U.S. Rep. Eric) Cantor is unique in the country. He can decide if there's a vote" on immigration reform.
McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment, but he has said that he does not support giving legal status to those who are here illegally. McCarthy's website says: "In order to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in our country, we must enforce the laws that already exist" and that he recommends securing the border with physical and electronic barriers.
Funding sources for the ad remain unclear. According to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which monitors organizations engaging in political advertising, the groups don't have to reveal how they paid for the ads, or reveal their donors, because they're 501c4 nonprofits, not political action committees, and because McCarthy is not running for election this year.
This weekend's pro-immigration events begin Sunday morning, when 15 Pilgrimage members, who have been trekking from Sacramento, are expected to be joined by at least 35 area clergy members on a walk through northwestern Bakersfield to McCarthy's office at around 11 a.m.
They will pray for McCarthy and build an altar outside his office from artifacts epitomizing the immigration experience, returning there after Monday's rally from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Fox Theater.
Lara said she expects as many as 2,000 people to attend the rally. But the Bakersfield Police Department, after speaking to organizers, expects the actual number to be closer to 1,000.
BPD spokeswoman Michaela Sims said police will be on-scene both days to ensure that events are peaceful, but that no streets will be blocked and marchers will not have a police escort.