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Washington, DC – With the final night of the Republican National Convention behind us, below are the major takeaways about where Mitt Romney’s Republican Party stands on immigrants and immigration reform:
1. Primary and Platform Immigration Positions Hold: Despite predictions that Mitt Romney would pull out the Etch-a-Sketch and tack to the middle on immigration, and with it now clear that his general election strategy is one of avoidance, not reinvention, Romney leaves himself defined by his primary season stances and by the RNC’s platform. Romney’s positions in the primary include his pledges to veto the DREAM Act; to pursue “self-deportation” as his immigration policy vision for the nation; and to embrace an Arizona-style crackdown as a “model” for the nation. Meanwhile, the RNC’s official platform is a Kris Kobach-driven grab-bag of hardline anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.
2. Romney Continues to Duck on Substance: Mitt Romney does not want to discuss immigration – preferring to duck policy specifics at the RNC and refusing to outline what he would do with the DREAMer documentation effort as soon as he takes office. As we’ve pointed out, Romney is stuck between a nativist rock and a demographic hard place – afraid to stand up to the loud but not large nativist wing of the GOP, but also wary of alienating even further the sizeable and growing Latino voting population. Whatever the “avoidance” strategy may represent, it’s certainly not leadership.
3. Republican Latino Outreach Strategy: A Triumph of Messenger Over Substance: Instead of speaking up forcefully about his immigration positions, Romney is relying on Latino surrogates and his Spanish-speaking son to soften the ground for him with the Latino community. Though Republican Latino elected officials and Craig Romney were given prominence at the convention, none used the opportunity to discuss immigration policy. From Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to Governor Susana Martinez (R-NV) to Senate candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX), the speakers talked about their own families’ inspiring stories, but not about the inspiring stories of millions of today’s immigrants. Expect more fluff and pablum from the Spanish-language Craig Romney ads coming to a TV near you in short order. Yes, Latinos—like all Americans—see the economy as their number one issue. But as Jeb Bush noted this week, “Immigration is a gateway basically. It’s a check-off point for Latino voters.” Judging by the RNC proceedings, the box remains – at best – unchecked for most Latinos.
4. GOP Recognizes Immigrant Tradition of Yesteryear, Ignores Today: The gauzy, pro-immigrant biographical notes touted by the speakers on stage contrast sharply with the harsh, anti-immigrants proposals adopted by Romney in the primary season and highlighted in the RNC’s official platform. In the platform language, the Party praises the contributions of “legal immigrants” but declares that undocumented immigration “undermines” us and poses “grave risks to the safety and sovereignty of the United States.” In today’s GOP, even Marco Rubio’s grandfather would be maligned as a lawbreaker.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Let’s see if I’ve got this straight – the immigrants of the past were hard-working strivers who helped to build this nation and whose descendants were prominently featured on the RNC dais. But the immigrants of today are – in the words of the official RNC Platform – ‘illegal aliens’ who should self-deport. It won’t matter to most Latino voters that Craig Romney can toss a line in Spanish to the audience if his father continues to be defined by a hard-line immigration stance that says immigration may have been a defining feature of our past but now it poses a threat to our future. No wonder the vast majority of Latinos have rejected the Republican Party and the Romney candidacy.”
Members of America’s Voice will be in Charlotte, North Carolina next week for the Democratic National Convention. If you’d like to schedule an interview with Maribel Hastings or Pili Tobar of America’s Voice, please contact Pili Tobar via email at email@example.com or phone at 305-890-3076.
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