In the last week, Kay Hagan -- Democratic challenger to Sen. Elizabeth Dole for North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat -- has been hammered by critical robo-calls from two operations: Freedom's Watch, a non-profit founded by GOP operatives in 2007, and the Free Enterprise Alliance, an offshoot of the Associated Builders and Contractors, whose PAC is the third-biggest contributor to Republicans in the country.

But instead of calling North Carolina voters, maybe the anti-Hagan robo-callers need to get on the phone and talk to each other. Because on at least one of the key issues Hagan is being attacked over -- immigration -- the two groups are sending voters a mixed message.

Last week, Freedom's Watch -- which, as a tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization is not legally allowed to coordinate its efforts with a Senate campaign -- started the robo-surge with a call that attacked Hagan for being soft on immigration:


"We all know illegal immigration is a serious problem across America, and in North Carolina, we're playing host to as many as 500,000 illegal aliens," a male voice says. "So what does Kay Hagan think about that? She opposes a program to find, track and deport criminal illegal aliens."

The robo-call ends by telling the listener to call Kay Hagan and tell her "you want her fighting for North Carolinians, not illegal aliens."

But don't pick up the phone just yet -- Hagan's other robo-callers, the Associated Builders and Contractors, probably wouldn't like it.

The ABC has backed a slew of calls that attack Hagan on unions and oil drilling. But with an estimated one out of four construction workers in the country being an immigrant, the ABC has been a fierce opponent of legislation to get tough on immigration.

Indeed, the ABC's official position paper on immigration starts by warning of severe labor shortages thanks to immigrant workers "who face extreme difficulty in becoming citizens or obtaining the necessary work permits."

The ABC goes on to say that:

There are approximately twelve million undocumented [NOTE: A word hated by anti-immigrant groups -- they prefer "illegal"] workers currently employed in the United States, many of whom are performing jobs that most Americans would find undesirable.

The ABC calls for a loosening of "tedious, time-consuming, expensive and largely unsuccessful" H2 visa rules and pushes for a fast path to citizenship for immigrant workers "for the benefit of our members and the industry."

To push this pro-immigrant agenda nationally, the ABC is a leader in the Essential Worker Immigrant Coalition -- a corporate lobbying group that includes the American Nursery and Landscape Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants and other business groups representing industries highly dependent on immigrants.

The EWIC website is full of pro-immigrant resources, including polls showing that the public thinks "immigration is a good thing," as well as helpful studies with titles like "Underestimating the Value of Less-Educated Workers" and "The Illegal Immigration Effect: The economic impact of unauthorized migrants isn't as big as you might think."

So if North Carolina voters do call Hagan about immigration, like the first robo-call suggests, whose talking points should they use -- Freedom's Watch or the ABC?

Photo: Kay Hagan