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During his eagerly anticipated speech today at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney underwhelmed and failed the leadership test, refusing to say anything substantial about immigration and once again not answering the question of what he would do about Obama’s DREAM relief announcement in office.
The following is a reaction from Frank Sharry, Executive Director here at America’s Voice:
Romney’s remarks on immigration today? FAIL. He once again dodged the question on whether he will keep or rescind the President’s executive action for DREAMers. He promised a mandatory employment verification system – which is the underpinning of his radical ‘self-deportation’ position – with no mention of a line to get into for the millions of undocumented workers currently in the U.S. He refused to distance himself from his hardline primary stances of pledging to veto the DREAM Act and supporting Arizona’s immigration bill that uses racial profiling in an attempt to purge immigrants from the state.
Platitudes about legal immigration policies were expected. But if Romney really does want to be President, he can’t continue to dodge the key questions: What about the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the U.S.? Would he keep or rescind Obama’s new directive on DREAM-eligible young people? Given his promise to veto the DREAM Act, when he calls for a permanent solution for DREAMers, what exactly does he mean? How will he protect the up to 1.4 million DREAMers expected to benefit from President Obama’s recent executive action? Does he still think that ‘self-deportation’ is the right approach for their parents and the millions of other immigrants living and working here without papers?
Today’s speech did nothing to boost his credibility – or his chances – in November. Latino voters are looking for leadership and someone who will stand up to the anti-immigrant minority in the GOP who continue to block immigration reforms. Yet Romney again failed to take the golden opportunity to do so today, showing that he remains tethered to the party’s hardline right. Romney told the NALEO audience, ‘you do have an alternative.’ Unfortunately, on immigration, Romney failed to provide a shred of reason why that alternative should be him.