With the DREAMer “Deferred Action” process set to begin accepting applications tomorrow, Mitt Romney still refuses to answer a simple question: on his first day as President, would he keep or revoke this new policy?
After bringing on hardline anti-immigrant activists as advisors, and taking hardline immigration positions during the primary, Romney has stuck to the hard right on immigration for the general election—despite the fact that this is hurting him significantly with Latino voters, who are the key to winning a number of battleground states. Romney pledged to veto the DREAM Act and labeled it a “handout,” called Arizona a “model” for the nation when it comes to immigration laws, and championed the Kris Kobach-Lamar Smith plan of “self-deportation” as an alternative to citizenship for immigrants without papers.
After the Obama Administration announced the new DREAMer deferred action policy in June, Romney failed to respond with a clear position. He told an audience at the NALEO conference that he would “replace and supersede” this action with something more permanent, but refused to explain what that would be—or to declare whether he would cancel the policy on Day 1 or keep it in place until a more permanent solution is enacted by Congress.
Yesterday, according to an AP Español recap, Romney told listeners of the Miami Spanish language radio station Radio Mambí: “If I’m elected President, I will do what President (Barack) Obama didn’t do: reform immigration…I think a lot of Hispanic voters must feel disappointment with President Obama when it comes to the subject of immigration…. He said he was going to solve the issue of immigration and he didn’t.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
How can Romney promise immigration reform when he won’t even take a position on the smartest immigration policy change in decades? Moreover, when he has provided policy specifics regarding the eleven million undocumented immigrants in this country, they have been the down-the-line hardline positions espoused by his immigration advisor Kris Kobach, not the type of pro-reform and sensible policies supported by the Latino voters to whom he is supposedly reaching out.
Romney’s refusal to state a position on deferred action is especially notable this week. Starting tomorrow, as the New York Times describes, hundreds of thousands of young immigrants will begin requesting “deferred action” and the right to work legally in the only country they’ve ever called home. These young people have done everything we’ve asked of them – excelled in school, volunteered in the community, even pledged to serve in the U.S. armed forces as soon as they are allowed. They petitioned their government for the basic right to work legally in their chosen careers, and when President Obama announced that he would support them in June, the policy was roundly applauded.
We simply don’t know from what Romney has said what he would do about Obama’s policy. Would Romney rescind it right away? Or would he leave it in place until he came up with a replacement? And if Romney and Congress failed to come up with that replacement — which is very possible, given recent history — would Romney leave it in place indefinitely? These are fair questions to be asking. The answers could impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.