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Last night, Mitt Romney won the Iowa Republican Caucus by 8 votes. The campaign now moves to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. Romney’s recent vow to veto the DREAM Act continues to dog him — and will be a major issue moving forward, especially in Florida.
The Miami Herald published a letter to Romney from a number of our DREAMers, which was also sent our way:
Open Letter to Governor Mitt Romney from DREAMers
Governor Mitt Romney,
You recently stated that if elected president of the United States, you would veto the federal DREAM Act and would not support any legislation that grants in-state tuition for undocumented students.
At this point, we are wondering whether you know the facts about the DREAM Act as your statement appears highly inconsistent considering your political record. Your political history indicates that you once supported several immigration reforms, some of which included the DREAM Act.
* In 2005, you supported an immigration reform plan that Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Sen. John Cornyn, (R-TX) proposed and called it a “reasonable proposal”. During an interview with the Boston Globe in November 2005, you showed your support and said it was not amnesty. The Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005 (S. 1438), which failed to pass in Congress, would have required undocumented immigrants to pay a fee and would be allowed to apply for citizenship.
* In 2007, you also supported the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform that provided a pathway to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally. During an interview with Meet the Press, you showed your support for the bill saying, “My own view is…those people who come here illegally and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship.”
* Two months later, in 2008, while running for president for the first time, you changed your stance on illegal immigration and campaigned against it.
* Now, in your second attempt to run for president, you are again opposing creating a path to legalization for the undocumented immigrant population. During a Republican presidential debate in November you stated, “To say that we’re going to say to the people who have come here illegally that now you’re going to get to stay or some large number are going to get to stay and become permanent residents of the United States, that will only encourage more people to do the same thing. People respond to incentives and if you can become a permanent resident of the United States by coming here illegally, you’ll do so.”
Vitriolic, anti-immigrant rhetoric has been the platform for some of the current presidential Republican candidates. However, we want you to set the record straight on the DREAM Act. You have to recognize the positive impact this legislation would have on the U.S. and the lives of the 2.1 million undocumented young immigrants who would benefit from it.
A 2010 study by the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center estimates that the total earnings of DREAM Act beneficiaries over the course of their working lives would be between $1.4 trillion and $3.6 trillion. This translates into greater tax revenue and scores of new jobs. If you are serious about fixing the economy, the DREAM Act is the solution, not the problem.
On Saturday, you said you support creating a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants who serve in the military. In fact, this is included in the DREAM Act. You also said that if elected president, you would veto the federal DREAM Act and that you don’t support giving benefits to young immigrants, such as in-state tuition. Once again, the current DREAM Act does not give undocumented youth in-state tuition or preferences over U.S. citizens. Instead, it would allow each state to decide whether or not to grant undocumented students in-state tuition and would only allow them to apply for student loans and federal work-study programs.
Moreover, your recent stance on opposing a pathway to citizenship is contrary to the wishes of the American people. A recent Fox News national poll showed that 66 percent of Americans think there should be a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but only if individuals meet requirements such as paying back taxes and learning English. Indeed, your current stance will not give you the support from our immigrant community and Latino voters, who will be a determining factor in the 2012 presidential race. According to a Pew Hispanic Center poll released in December, 88 percent of Latino registered voters nationwide support the DREAM Act.
Over the past 10 years, since the DREAM Act was first introduced, Republicans and Democrats have used us to score cheap political points, and we will no longer stand for that.
Even though we are still not allowed to drive, work, and use our college degrees, we have not given up. We will continue to mobilize our communities until we’re given the opportunity to give back to this country we love and call home.
DRM Capitol Group
Maryland DREAM Team
El Cambio in North Carolina
New Mexico DREAMers in Action
Connecticut Students for a DREAM
New York DREAMers
DREAM Team Los Angeles
Gaby Pacheco, Trail of Dreams
DREAM Big Vegas
But, Romney is sticking with his opposition to DREAM. This morning, CNN reported “Romney defends DREAM Act Stance”:
Mitt Romney, fresh from a narrow win in the Iowa caucuses, defended Wednesday his opposition to the DREAM act, which would allow a path to citizenship for minors in the country illegally.
“You know, the Hispanic-American voters I speak with are overwhelmingly concerned with opportunity,” Romney said on CNN’s “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien.”
As polls have shown, “Hispanic-American voters” are overwhelmingly supportive of the DREAM Act, which provides an opportunity for immigrant youth. In February, Matt Barreto from Latino Decisions wrote a post titled, Why the DREAM Act will matter in the 2012 election, which examined the support for DREAM:
Looking to 2012, it is clear that immigration and the DREAM Act will still be on the minds of Latino voters. As a recap, 60% said immigration was one of the most important issues in the 2010 election, and 47% said it was the top issue in February 2011 – more than any other issue. Not surprisingly, support for the DREAM Act is strongest, indeed almost universal, among those who say they will vote for Obama in 2012.
So, Mitt should really read — and heed — that open letter from the DREAMers. He won’t. But, he should.