As I watched the Republican debates last night, I was taken by surprise when Mitt “I will veto the DREAM Act” Romney all of a sudden decided to sing to an ever-so-slightly “different” (perhaps more alarming) tune on the whole issue. From Elise Foley’s piece in the Huffington Post:
Gingrich said he would support part of the bill that would allow for legal status for those who joined the military — a more centrist position that is more likely to appeal to Latino voters, who make up a large bloc of Florida voters and who largely support the Dream Act.
Romney, perhaps realizing that his statement on vetoing the Dream Act won’t play as well in Florida as it might have in Iowa and South Carolina, chimed in.
“I’d just noted that’s the same position that I have, and that’s that I wouldn’t sign the Dream Act as it currently exists, but I would sign the Dream Act if it were focused on military service,” Romney said, interrupting Gingrich’s answer.
If that was true, then it’s interesting he chose that moment to clarify the position – not last week when he was confronted by a DREAMer in New York who asked him point-blank why he would deny her the chance at her DREAM. Romney pulled away from shaking her hand when she introduced herself as undocumented.
From telling voters that he would vote against the DREAM Act in Iowa to touting the endorsement of anti-immigrant ring-leader, Kris Kobach, the GOP presidential hopeful has consistently ridden a hard line on immigration. So let’s be clear: Romney still opposes the DREAM Act, and as he added yesterday, he’s also for “self-deportation.” For those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s Mitt-speak for “attrition through enforcement,” which means that he’s wanting to make things so unbearable for undocumented immigrant that they’ll pack up and leave on their own.
But I digress. Getting back to the issue at hand, let’s recap on what the DREAM Act is:
The DREAM Act is an acronym for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (Note key word: EDUCATION). It was first proposed on August 1, 2001, and was up for a vote late last year, where it had majority support, but failed by 5 votes (we needed 60).
This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented immigrants of good moral character who graduate from US high schools, arrived in the US as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment — if they are to complete two years in the military or two years of college.
What Romney — and Gingrich, for that matter — refer to as the “DREAM Act” is in truth, a twisted version of it — if even that. Essentially, these young Americans can only give back to the country if they’re willing to die for it. Frank Sharry, America’s Voice’s executive director, summed it up pretty nicely in a statement earlier today:
The heart of the DREAM Act aims to open the doors of opportunity to kids who are Americans in all but the paperwork, and want to contribute to the nation they call home. For candidates who talk about the need to encourage economic opportunity and innovation, their opposition to this common sense proposal is jarring and hypocritical. For Mitt Romney, his overall position can be summed up as: ‘get out of the country; but some of you young ones can stay if you go fight on the front lines.’ He has all but abandoned the quest for the 40% of the Latino vote that experts believe a GOP presidential nominee must win in order to compete in swing states such as Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona.