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On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Romney to Campaign in SC With Anti-Immigrant Radical Kris Kobach

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National Leaders Say: By Teaming up With Kobach, Romney Takes the Final Step in Destroying His Chances with Latino Voters in the General Election

Last week, Mitt Romney fully embraced a campaign endorsement from Kris Kobach, the controversial author of the anti-immigrant laws enacted in Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and elsewhere, a move that will destroy any last hopes he may have had of courting Latino voters in the general election.  On a press call today, U.S. Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL), SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina, and America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry discussed this puzzling move in the Romney campaign strategy and its impact on a potential general election match-up between Romney and President Obama.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, United States Congressman (D-IL) and leading immigration reform advocate said, “On the day we observe Martin Luther King’s birth, Mitt Romney and the Republicans are campaigning in the Deep South to restrict the civil rights of immigrants and to continue our nation’s neglect of immigration reform based on the fantasy that 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants could, should, or world leave the United States.  That Mitt Romney is doing so with Kris Kobach — the architect of the anti-immigration wave of bills at the state and local level; the author of the Arizona and Alabama bills; a man affiliated with the anti-immigrant movement’s worst elements; and the Dark Lord of the anti-immigration movement — is appalling.  But boy does it make it crystal clear to Latino voters what is at stake in this election.  Mitt Romney can surround himself with all the Cuban Republicans in the world — and he will be doing exactly that in Florida — but the stink of the anti-immigrant positions he is taking will not rub off.”

Kobach is an extreme immigration hard-liner who used his position as advisor to Attorney General John Ashcroft, and then at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, to devise new ways to marginalize, demonize, and terrorize immigrants.  Kobach is closely connected to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been labeled an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Kobach’s endorsement highlights the fact that Romney has taken the most extreme positions on immigration of any Republican contender, including his recent promise to veto the DREAM Act should Congress pass it.  

Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employee International Union said, “Mr. Romney  has proven that he is not only ignorant about the Latino community, he is ‘un candidato de dos caras,’ a two-faced candidate.  He says one thing in English and another thing in Spanish.  Apparently, Mitt believes that because he is speaking in English, Latinos will not catch on to his real agenda.  Unfortunately for Mitt, Latinos do speak English and he is not going to get away with talking out of both sides of his mouth.  Latinos are paying very close attention to what the candidates are saying to them and about them. We are tuned in and we will turn out in November.”

In addition to adding Kobach as a part of his South Carolina voter outreach strategy, just last week Romney sent out mailers touting his hardline immigration positions.  According toFrank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice, said “It’s repugnant that today, on Martin Luther King Jr.’s commemorative day, someone like Kris Kobach would be embraced by a major political figure in America.  Kobach says he supports Romney because he is the furthest to the right on immigration and on that we agree.  Romney has promised to veto the DREAM Act and has become a champion of attrition through enforcement.  We believe this will have serious political consequences for Mitt Romney. He is making a huge political error that will haunt him in the general election.”

Congressman Gutierrez agreed, saying: “One lesson about Latinos and Latino voters that Mitt Romney will learn sooner or later is that Latino voters are not stupid.  We have a very good memory of who stood with us and who stood with the people trying to get rid of us.”


Link to Recording of Today’s Call

Media Matters, “Meet Kris Kobach: Lawyer for The Anti-Immigrant Movement”

Southern Poverty Law Center profile of Kris Kobach

Center for New Community, “10 Reasons Why Mitt Romney Should Reject Kris Kobach’s Endorsement”

Think Progress, “Romney Campaigning With Anti-Immigrant Official With Ties to Hate Groups On Martin Luther King Day”