MILWAUKEE -- In a new TV advertisement, an anti-immigration advocacy group accuses House Speaker Paul Ryan of being soft on immigration. A FOX6 News Reality Check found the ad leaves out some important information.
Californians For Population Stabilization is spending at least $100,000 to air the ad in the Milwaukee media market over three weeks, a spokesman for the group said.
The ad's claims
The ad begins by defending anti-immigration groups against critics.
"Some call Americans who oppose mass immigration racist," says Frank Morris, who is the ad's only speaker. "I fought for civil rights all my life, and I oppose mass immigration."
Morris, who is black, told FOX6 that he has been involved in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for decades. He is the former director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
Morris said immigration is a racial issue because it harms low-income workers, many of whom are black.
"Too much immigration drives down American wages," Morris says in the ad. "It means fewer jobs for working-class Americans and less opportunities to achieve the American dream."
This part of the ad is Not The Whole Story, Reality Check found.
As Morris says the line, the ad flashes up a Wall Street Journal article with the headline "Immigrants push down wages for low-income workers - but how much?"
The ad only highlights the first part of the headline.
The article does say how immigration hurts lower-income workers, but it also questions the size of the impact.
One economist cited in the article suggests that immigration drove down the wages of U.S high school dropouts by 10 percent in the 1980s and 1990s. Another economist says that immigration is "at most a small contributor" to U.S. income inequality.
Whatever the impact, Californians For Population Stabilization blames Ryan.
"Wanting what`s fair for Americans isn`t racist. It`s common sense," Morris says, as the ad shows a photo of Ryan. "It`s time our leaders use some common sense and stood up for us."
This Needs Clarification, Reality Check research showed.
The ad only shows Ryan's picture and doesn't name any immigration-related votes or positions he's taken.
Joe Guzzardi, a spokesman for Californians For Population Stabilization, said he didn't know why Ryan's voting record wasn't included, other than it would be "a little cumbersome."
The unemployment rates in five of the six counties in Ryan's congressional district are above the national average of 5 percent. They include: Racine, 6.1 percent; Milwaukee, 5.7 percent, Kenosha, 5.6 percent; Walworth, 5.3 percent, and Rock, 5.3 percent. Waukesha County's 4.1 percent unemployment rate is lower that the U.S. average.
Californians For Population Stabilization ties the higher unemployment rates with immigration. However, Guzzardi could not point to any studies to show the number of Wisconsin workers who had lost jobs because of immigration.
Pew Research and the Migration Policy Institute have produced separate studies that show both legal and illegal immigrants make up a smaller percentage of Wisconsin's population than the nation as a whole.
People who are in the country illegally made up 1.5 percent of Wisconsin's population in 2012, according to the Pew study. That compares with 3.5 percent across the U.S.
All people born outside the U.S. made up 4.9 percent of Wisconsin's population in 2014, according to the Migration Policy Institute study, compared with 13.3 percent
The Southern Poverty Law Center, an immigration advocate, labels Californians For Population Stabilization as a "hate group" because of its anti-immigration stances.
In a follow-up phone call about the ad, Morris called the designation an attempt to "distract debate."
Californians For Population Stabilization did provide examples of Ryan's pro-immigration record in a news release. Because they weren't part of the ad, FOX6 has decided to note them separately in this story.
The group's news release says that Ryan "fought to expand the number of low-skilled foreign workers allowed into the country."
That claim references an expansion of the H2-B visa program included in a trillion-dollar omnibus appropriations bill in December 2015. Ryan, who had been elected speaker less than two months earlier, voted for the bill.
Facing backlash over the visa program expansion, the speaker's office put out a news release in December. It described how the House Appropriations Committee had approved the visa provision months earlier, with every Republican on the committee voting yes.
The provision makes 8,000 additional visas available for 2016 only, Ryan's office said.
Californians For Population Stabilization also says that Ryan "advocated for" the so-called Gang of Eight immigration plan in 2013.
Conservative groups were angered by the proposal, which provided a path to citizenship for people who were in the U.S. illegally. It also called for security enhancements along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ryan was not part of the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators. News reports suggest he did help the group informally.
A spokesman for Ryan's campaign told FOX6 that the speaker's first requirement of immigration reform is securing the border. On Ryan's website, he outlines a lengthy process for some people to earn legal status.
The Gang of Eight's bill passed the Senate in 2013. But the GOP-dominated House killed the proposal without a vote, meaning Ryan never was put to an up-or-down vote on the proposal.