In his apparently endless effort to write off Latino voters, Mitt Romney’s campaign today unveiled the endorsement of yet another notorious anti-immigrant leader: former California Governor Pete Wilson (R). Wilson’s endorsement joins that of Romney immigration advisor and Alabama/Arizona “papers, please” law architect Kris Kobach and leading congressional mass-deportation champion Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) in an illustrious pantheon of anti-immigrant endorsers.
Frank Sharry, our executive director, explained the significance of the Wilson announcement:
Isn’t Romney supposed to be a facts guy? Didn’t any of his so-called smart operatives tell him that Pete Wilson has lower approval ratings in the Latino community than the devil himself? Combined with his embrace of Kris Kobach and Lamar Smith, Romney’s message to Latino voters seems to be the same message he is sending to Latino immigrants: get lost.
With his unrelenting far right approach to immigration, Romney seems intent on writing off Latino-heavy battleground states such as Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada this fall — all because he wants to prove to the nativist fringe in the GOP he’s “one of them.” Well, he has succeeded on both counts.
As a refresher, here’s some background on the Romney campaign’s leading anti-immigrant endorsers:
Pete Wilson – the Man Who Turned California Blue: As Governor, Pete Wilson championed California’s Proposition 187 in 1994, which would have kept undocumented immigrants from enrolling in public school or using other public services. The proposition passed, but was struck down by the courts. The most lasting impact was political, as the Prop. 187 battle helped to mobilize Latino voters, turning what was a purple state into a solid blue state ever since and helping to make Pete Wilson a figure forever remembered by Latino voters. As Maria Elena Durazo, head of the Los Angeles County AFL-CIO, told the Washington Post, “We ran against Pete Wilson for years after he was out of office.” Perhaps Gov. Romney should ask his supporter Meg Whitman, California’s 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee, about the effects of a Pete Wilson endorsement.
Kris Kobach – the Man Behind Arizona and Alabama’s “Papers, Please” Anti-Immigration Laws: The Kansas Secretary of State, Kobach is simultaneously both an endorser and advisor to Romney on immigration issues and the architect of the series of state-based “papers, please” laws in states like Arizona and Alabama that illustrate the real world consequences, costs, and impracticality of Romney’s stated “self-deportation” immigration policy goal. Kobach’s vision has already resulted in an $11 billion price tag to Alabama.
Lamar Smith – the Man Whose Single Mission in Congress is Mass-Deportation: Rep. Lamar Smith is both a Romney endorser and the leading architect of anti-immigrant legislation in the U.S. Congress. Smith’s stated policy vision is “attrition through enforcement” – another name for the mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, the majority of whom have been here for over a decade contributing to American communities and often living in mixed status families.