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Romney Says He Will End Relief for Vast Majority of Eligible DREAMers

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Mitt Romney, for how much he desperately needs the Latino vote, is not doing a very good job courting it.

A number of media outlets yesterday covered Mitt’s early-in-the-day comments to the Denver Post, when he called President Obama’s deferred action for DREAMers program a “special visa” (which was incorrect) and said that applicants who received temporary relief through the program “should expect that [it] would continue to be valid.”  After months of waiting for an answer, any answer on what Romney would do with the deferred action policy as President, many observers took Romney’s comments to be evidence that the candidate was finally softening his hardline immigration stance in an attempt to appeal to Latino voters.

But not so fast.  In follow-up comments that have yet to receive significant notice, the Romney campaign clarified his comments–and reestablished Romney’s extremism on the issue.  In an interview with the Boston Globe, the Romney campaign made it clear that a President Romney would actually shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as soon as he was inaugurated.  This means that only the DREAMers who received deportation exemptions before January 20, 2013 would receive protection under a President Romney, with the vast majority of eligible applicants shut out, leaving them vulnerable to deportation under a Romney Administration.

At present, approximately 200 DREAMers have actually received their work permits.  It is our best guess that by the time Inauguration Day rolls around some 100,000 DREAMers will have received their work permits.  With 1.4 million young people eligible, that means that Romney is now promising to protect but a fraction of the people who would benefit the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

What’s astonishing about Romney’s reestablished hardline stance is that he didn’t have to take it.  Romney is no longer running in the anti-immigrant primaries; he’s now in the general election, and desperately trying to win moderate, independent, and undecided voters.  A lot of them–Latino and non-Latino, support practical and human reforms like the DREAMer deferred action program.

For example, a CNN/ORC poll on immigration policy released yesterday found that a whopping 64% of all registered voters said that deferred action was “about right,” while 15% said it does not go far enough.  Only 18% said the DACA program goes too far.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The Romney campaign’s decision to side with the 18% of the American people who are hardliners wasn’t sound politics in the primary, and isn’t sound politics now.  Just when it looked as if Romney was reaching out to Latino voters by promising to protect young people who benefit under President Obama’s initiative, now his campaign is promising to rip away the hopes and futures of more than a million young people who are American in all but paperwork.  Well, at least he finally came clean, and the choice is clearer than ever.  A vote for Romney is a vote against the DREAMers.

For more resources:

Romney Interview with Denver Post: The key part of the interview: “The people who received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid.”

Romney Campaign Interview with Boston Globe: The key part of the interview, as described by Boston Globe correspondent Callum Borchers: “Responding to a Globe request to clarify Romney’s statement to the Denver Post, Romney’s campaign said he would honor deportation exemptions issued by the Obama administration before his inauguration but would not grant new ones after taking office.”