While campaigning in Wisconsin yesterday, Mitt Romney debuted a new line of attack against President Obama—focusing on immigration. Said Romney, referring to immigration:
This has always been a priority for the President he chooses to do nothing about…Let the immigrant community not forget that, while he uses this as a political weapon, he has not taken responsibility for fixing the problems we have.
The following is a reaction from Frank Sharry, our Executive Director:
There could not be a less credible messenger on this issue than Mitt Romney. From pledging a veto of the DREAM Act to endorsing the radical concept of ‘self-deportation,’ Romney has adopted an immigration position more extreme than any general election nominee in modern U.S. history.
Team Romney knows he’s in deep trouble with Latino voters. Instead of competing for those voters they hope to de-motivate them. Yesterday’s broadside is best understood as a thinly-veiled exercise in voter suppression.
Everyone knows that many Latino voters are disappointed and even angry at the Obama Administration for not fighting harder for immigration reform and for deporting more people than ever before. But Romney’s cynical attempt to exploit this sentiment does not change the fact that when it comes to the opposition to comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act, the vast majority of the criticism should be laid at the feet of Republicans in Congress.
Of course, the Romney immigration stance and endorsement list may end up being the single best motivator for Latino voters in 2012. This past weekend, Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R) endorsed Romney, joining an anti-immigrant rogues gallery of fellow Romney endorsers, such as Arizona ‘show me your papers’ law architect Kris Kobach, House hard liner Lamar Smith, Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer and former California Governor Pete Wilson. Sensenbrenner already has an impressive track record at mobilizing Latinos – he drove 4 million Latinos to march in the streets in 2006 after the GOP-controlled House passed his legislation that would have turned undocumented workers and anyone who helped them – including their priests and pastors – into felons. The Republican Party has not yet recovered with Latino voters.
The Republicans’ best long-term hope regarding their Latino voter predicament remains the option they seem least willing to embrace – standing up to anti-immigrant lawmakers in their midst, rejecting the lurch to the right, and actually competing for Latino and immigrant voters by offering better policy alternatives. Unfortunately, judging by the new Romney remarks and what has transpired this election cycle to date, such a reasonable approach is unlikely to make it on their 2012 agenda.