A Republican Party spokeswoman characterizes Romney’s stance on illegal immigration:
“He’s still deciding what his position on immigration is,” Bettina Inclan, the party’s director of Hispanic outreach, told reporters at a briefing this week. “I can’t talk about what his proposal is going to be.”
Until the Republicans can “talk about it,” a review of Mr. Romney’s positions in the past give an indication of what his “proposal” could include.
might not have a “new and improved” opinion on immigration, but he does have a history of views. His philosophy seems to have at its core the belief that 12 million people should be sent home one way or the other.
In 2007 on the question of whether undocumented immigrants should return to their country of origin, he had this to say in an interview with Tim Russert.
"They should have a set period during which period they sign up for application for permanent residency or for citizenship. But there's a set period whereupon they should return home. And if they've been approved for citizenship or for a permanent residency, well, that would be a different matter. But for the great majority, they'll be going home.”
In interviews during the primary season this year, the former Massachusetts governor said he favors "path to citizenship" for undocumented immigrants, but added that "consists of going to their home country, applying for citizenship or permanent residency just like everybody else, and getting back in the line."
Most agree the borders need to be controlled, but has Mr. Romney considered what is involved pragmatically in sending 12 million people back to Mexico? The unintended consequences—or perhaps it is intended—families would be separated, and the young children born here who are U.S. citizens will have to return with parents and leave their country. And the adult children would be separated from their families because they are U.S. citizens. Husbands and wives could also be separated as well as extended family members.
Is this the best America has to offer?
The concept of sending aliens back to homeland reached a fever pitch beginning in 2009 with the rise of the Tea Party capitalizing on the discontent of Americans.
Here is one dreadful example reported in the media in 2009:
“We don’t need illegals,” says a white-bearded protester into his megaphone. “Send ‘em all back. Send ‘em back with a bullet in the head the second time.”
The man goes on to cite, saying “Read what Jefferson said about the Tree of Liberty — it’s coming, baby.”
This kind of right wing, conservative extremism is racist at heart and does not contribute to thoughtful, forward-thinking comprehensive immigration reform. It’s founded in fear and shock with reckless disregard for the value and contributions of immigrant populations.
Romney has also stated he would veto the Dream Act that allows conditional permanent residency to some undocumented aliens who graduate from high school here but arrived as minors and have lived here continuously for five years, arrived in the U.S. as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four year college, they would obtain temporary residency for a six-year period.
For Republicans in this election, it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, they realize that the Hispanic vote is valuable, but on the other they have to placate their conservative base. Whatever form Romney’s new position on immigration takes, he cannot serve two masters. He will have to decide which side is more politically vital for his election in November.
In a Pew study last fall, 41 percent of people living in 60 Tea Party districts had a favorable opinion of the Republican Party while 48 percent have an unfavorable view. The Republicans embraced the Tea Party in the midterm elections 2010, but indications now show Tea Party support waning for the GOP.
The influential Latino vote, which is growing every year, is advancing as the Tea Party recedes; therefore, the Republicans will have to make a decision.
The New Republic wrote in March, “Latin Insights, showed that in a matchup with President Obama, Mitt Romney would garner just 14 percent of Latinos’ votes, compared to Obama’s 70 percent. And crucially, the poll found that this fall, Obama could win 40 percent of the Latinos who backed McCain in 2008.”
Mitt Romney has a definite challenge, not only for himself in this election, but also the Republican Party in aggregate in the years to come. The Republican response to immigration is punitive, and unless they make major policy changes they will forever lose the immigrant vote.
When Hispanics become citizens and begin voting they will remember who supported them—and it won’t be the Republicans.
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