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DNC Kicks Off with Major Contrasts on Immigration on Display

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Ahead of this week’s Democratic National Convention, a series of contrasts are on display regarding immigration policy and politics:

Democratic and Republican Party Platforms on Immigration:  On immigration, the RNC’s official platform unveiled last week is a Kris Kobach-driven grab-bag of hardline anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.  The RNC platform is filled with references to “illegal aliens,” linking undocumented workers with criminals, and takes a particularly strong stand against the DREAMer deferred action program, declaring that President Obama has “undermined the rule of law at every turn,” by creating “a backdoor amnesty program unrecognized in law, granting worker authorization to illegal aliens.”  Meanwhile, the Democratic Party platform promotes a decidedly different vision of and appreciation for immigrants, promoting comprehensive immigration reform with a path to earned citizenship for the undocumented, while stressing the importance of family unity and the continued need for the DREAM Act.  The DNC platform also touts a series of Obama Administration initiatives, including legal immigration process reforms, DOJ legal challenges to state “papers, please” laws, and the recent DREAMer deferred action program.

San Antonio’s Mayor Julian Castro and Democratic Rep. Charlie Gonzalez vs. Republican Rep. Lamar Smith:  Featured prominently at the DNC tonight are two San Antonio Democrats who have championed the rights of immigrants: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Charlie Gonzalez and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.  Castro gives the keynote address, and is likely to discuss immigration policy in the context of his family’s story and the future of the nation.  Speaking to the Houston Chronicle, Castro “shrugged off” comparisons between his impending address and those of Latino speakers at last week’s RNC, stressing that, “Aside from the personalities…it’s the policies” that matter.  Gonzalez and Castro’s perspectives stand in sharp contrast with that of another San Antonio-area voice, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the leading anti-immigrant ideologue in Congress and a proponent of the Romney/Kobach “self-deportation” policy that was prominently featured in the Republican platform last week.

Two Romney Latino Surrogates Tell Two Different Stories of a President Romney Immigration Policy:  As we highlighted last week, Mitt Romney has refused to disavow his hardline immigration positions adopted during the primary, and instead is trying to avoid all mention of the issue in hopes that Latino voters will get collective amnesia.  While Romney continues to avoid stating whether he would keep or rescind Obama’s DREAMer deferred action policy until a “permanent solution” can be enacted in Congress, his Latino surrogates continue to offer their own interpretations.  In an interview with Voxxi, Romney advisor and former Bush Administration official Hector Barreto tried to state that as President, Romney would both prioritize immigration reform and be pro-immigrant, dismissing the significance of Romney’s anti-DREAM Act stance and notingthat “One of the things that he’s looking for is a complete solution.  He’s not trying to piece-meal it here and there but he really wants to try to fix it once and for all.”  Barreto’s assessment differs significantly from that of fellow Romney supporter Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who told Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald that she is in a position “that is opposite to that of Mitt Romney on immigration, totally” and stating that, “Nobody should vote for Mitt Romney thinking that he will change his positions…Mitt Romney says he does not support the Dream Act, and I think he is a person who stands by what he says, and won’t change his mind.”