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Ahead of Republican Convention: Key Questions for Mitt Romney on Immigration

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Romney’s “Just Trust Me” Campaign Just Doesn’t Cut it On Immigration, Especially Given Campaign’s Tacit Approval of Anti-DREAMer Lawsuit

This week has seen renewed chatter about the importance of Latino voters to the 2012 elections.  Coverage has focused on the news that Mitt Romney’s campaign has a goal of winning at least 38% of Latino voters nationwide – despite the fact that Romney’s actual Latino support has registered as low as 22% in recent months, and that the GOP is poised to adopt a hard line immigration plank of their platform at the upcoming convention.  The anti-immigrant provisions – which call for the “self-deportation” of undocumented immigrants – were added by Kris Kobach, a vocal anti-immigrant activist and advisor to Mitt Romney.

Kobach took it one step further yesterday when he filed a lawsuit filed to block the implementation of the DREAMer deferred action program.  According to Elise Foley at Huffington Post, Kobach said “that the campaign was aware of the lawsuit and had not expressed concerns with the plan.” Taken together, this paints a picture of a Republican Party leader (Romney) who is actually a follower on the issue of immigration.  It’s time for the candidate speak up, in his own voice and his own words, and be clear about where he stands on important issues.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Romney remains stuck between a nativist rock and a demographic hard place.  This is why he is continuing his general election ‘just trust me, but no details’ strategy, substituting vague rhetoric for actual leadership and remaining complicit in the GOP’s shift to the far right on immigration.”

While Kobach might be in the driver’s seat for the Republican Party on immigration, there will be plenty of Latinos on the dais at the Republican Convention.  Some may even talk about the need for “immigration reform” in general and bash Obama for failing to enact legislation (that Republicans blocked).  They’ll follow the Romney general election playbook of saying, “just trust me, I’ll do better than Obama, but I won’t spell out any details.”  Meanwhile, Romney’s primary positions will be there in the Party platform, in black and white.

It’s time to hear from the candidate in his own words.  Here are three key immigration questions that Romney should be challenged to answer:

  • Does Romney support the anti-immigrant lawsuit seeking to block the DREAMer deferred action program?  Yesterday, Kris Kobach joined with Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, a leading anti-immigrant organization, and Chris Crane, the head of the ICE Union, to file a lawsuit against U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.  The anti-immigrant trio is seeking to block the implementation of the DREAMer deferred action program that would allow certain young immigrants who came here as children to get work papers for two years.  Notably, the Romney campaign appears to have given its tacit approval of the anti-DREAMer lawsuit.
  • On his first day as President, would Romney keep or revoke the new DREAMer deferred action policy?  Despite promising to veto the DREAM Act during the primary season, Romney has refused to provide specifics or state a clear position in regards to President Obama’s DREAMer deferred action policy.  In June, Romney told an audience at the NALEO conference that he would “replace and supersede” this action with something more permanent, but refused to explain what that would be or to declare whether he would cancel the policy on Day 1 or keep it in place until a more permanent solution is enacted by Congress.  The American people deserve to know – before Election Day – what as President he plans to do on an issue that affects – directly and indirectly – millions of people.
  • Would a President Romney really push for “self deportation” for 11 million undocumented immigrants?  During the primary season, Romney strongly supported the radical notion of self-deportation.  This approach, also known as “attrition through enforcement,” is ripped directly from the Kris Kobach playbook and forms the intent of the state anti-immigrant laws passed by Arizona and Alabama (now largely de-fanged by federal courts).  Despite avoiding the issue in the general election, this is a position Romney has not disavowed.  Meanhwhile, Romney surrogates claim that a President Romney would seek comprehensive immigration reform – especially in Spanish.  For example, Carlos Gutierrez, Commerce Secretary under George W. Bush, had this to say last Sunday on Telemundo’s “Enfoque” (translation by America’s Voice): “[Romney] will do something comprehensive and we have to start by changing the laws…Romney has said that he will deal with everything, the 12 million undocumented people.  He will do it in a civil way, in a committed way that will fix the problem.”

According to Sharry, “Given Romney’s avoidance of substantive immigration discussions during the general election, and the impact of his decisions would have on millions of people, it’s time for Romney to state clearly and unequivocally how he plans to treat the undocumented immigrant population in the nation.  The American public deserves specific proposals, not calculated avoidance.”

Helpful Resources Ahead of Republican Convention

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.