Immigration has become one of—if not the—defining issues of the 2016 presidential election. Is the key to addressing the flow of undocumented people into the United States a question of mass deportations and closed borders, as Donald Trump suggests? Is it a comprehensive plan that includes paths to citizenship, as Hillary Clinton prefers?
Or is it, as a new billboard in Texas recommends, just a matter of finding the right "sugar daddy" to hunker down with before ICE busts through your door?
Featuring a woman lounging across a Mexican flag background, the billboard boldly proclaims, "Undocumented Immigrant? Before you get deported get a sugar daddy."
Posted along Austin's I-35, the sign is an advertisement for ArrangementFinders.com, an internet dating company that advertises itself as "an exclusive service that connects men and women looking for mutually beneficial arrangements." What sort of mutually beneficial arrangements? The company's (semi-NSFW) website promises women will "meet young men looking to take care of you in MANY generous ways." With its slogan of "intimacy with a twi$t," it's pretty clear what they mean: Rich guys financing the women they're dating.
What do sugar daddies have to do with undocumented immigrants? Great question!
"It was one of those moments where it was this intersection of what's going on in society and what's going on with our site," ArrangementFinders.com CMO Jacob Webster explained to Fox 7 News, which points out that one third of the people signing up for the site are Latinx women.
On Twitter, reactions to the billboard ran from bemused astonishment…
…to explicit anger:
Among those criticizing the ad is immigration expert Thomas Esparza, Jr., who told Fox 7 that the billboard is not only insulting to people involved in the complex and emotionally fraught mechanics of the U.S. immigration system, but that it's "encouraging people to commit a federal felony"—marriage fraud.
In fact, this is far first time Arrangement Finders has offended people with its billboard marketing. In 2013, the company was forced to remove billboards in Los Angeles and Chicago which read "Hey Students, Need a Summer Job? Date a Sugar Daddy," and "Because the best job is a b**w job."
UPDATE: In an emailed statement from Ruby (formerly Avid Life Media), parent company to Arrangement Finders, a representative distanced the company from the billboard:
The billboard was created independently by an affiliate; is completely unacceptable and does not reflect the views or vision of our company, so we have requested that they take it down immediately