Five days removed from President Obama’s announcement of an Executive Order changing the immigration policy of the United States, GOP Nomineehas yet to directly answer yes or no to media questions pertaining to whether he would repeal the Order if he is elected.
As things stand, if Congress doesn’t act in the next month to block the order, then the children of illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the country before they were 16 will become eligible to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and will be allowed to apply for a two-year work permit. To be eligible for relief, the individual must have lived in the U.S. for five continuous years, have no criminal record and have earned a high school diploma, a GED or have served in the military. Thus, because of the wide effect and the urgency to act created by this policy change, it’s of vital importance to millions of young immigrants living in the shadows to know whether a President Romney would be in favor of allowing those qualified under Obama’s order to remain in the U.S.
The biggest political problem created for Romney by Obama’s move is that answering either way will cost him critical votes with Latinos, independents, or with anti-immigrant Tea Party Republicans. Thus, the politics behind his current silence are clear; he is doing whatever he can to avoid taking a position in order to avoid alienating key constituencies. In fact, a recent poll on Obama’s move conducted by Bloomberg this week showed 86% support from Democrats, 66% from Independents, and only 44% support among Republicans. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the Romney Campaign is aware of the political consequences associated with advising their candidate on whether to speak or not speak on this Order. What is not clear is why Romney and his surrogates are accusing Obama of playing politics with immigration policy when Romney’s own refusal to answer direct questions is obviously a politically motivated campaign tactic.
To further complicate matters for undecided voters, it also appears from the text on Romney’s campaign website that he has already taken a position in favor of retaining immigrant talent. For example, under the heading of “Attract the Best and Brightest," the Romney campaign’s website states that the “the U.S. needs to attract and retain job creators from wherever they come. Foreign-born residents with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at an especially high rate.” But this position, without the qualification that it only applies to legal immigrants, is much too liberal a stance for a majority of the Republican base, including Tea Partiers. Thus, Romney’s own inconsistency on immigration issues are why he finds himself stuck between supporting the Order and risking losing his already shaky conservative base, or rejecting the Order, threatening to repeal, and risking losing vital support from undecided independent voters and Rubio Republicans.
Considering the above issues and the fact thatrecently withdrew his Dream Act legislation from the Senate, an honest analysis of the cost/benefit to the GOP of Romney’s responding directly to Obama’s Order leads to the reasonable conclusion that Mitt Romney will continue to deflect direct questions pertaining to the Executive Order or the Dream Act. Romney, as most are aware by now, is a master political chameleon who typically plays it safe on controversial issues while taking whatever position is popular at the place, time and with the audience he is speaking to. Because Romney is scared to offend fair weather conservative voters by back treading on the rhetoric he spouted during the primary season, we should expect him and his campaign to continue to talk tough about deportations and the problems with illegal immigrants when in front of Tea Party crowds, and similarly, because he is scared to offend undecided conservative Latino voters, we can also expect Romney the chameleon to sound a lot like his possible running mate Marco Rubio when he visits Florida. Just don’t expect Mitt Romney to give the American people a direct yes or no answer any time soon.
If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.