Romney immigration barbs show his weakness on the issue

Mitt Romney meets leaders at the NALEO conference 21 June 2012 The automated campaign emails have started appearing in Spanish

As Mitt Romney spoke to Latino leaders in Florida, I am sure I heard the repeated sound of shattering glass.

He mocked President Obama for coming up with a temporary policy on immigration, saying "that he seems to think [it] will be just enough to get him through the election".

He told his Hispanic audience that as the election turns tough Mr Obama "has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on day one".

There's no question he's right. Only the very naive and trusting would think the president's timing was dictated by anything other than the election.

But isn't that tinkling the sound of a man in a glass house throwing stones?

Una Estrategia Nacional?

This was Mr Romney's first speech on immigration and it wasn't exactly policy rich. I get robo-emails from the Romney campaign several times a day. Last night there was one from his son Craig:

"Hi Mark, I've been privileged to be along for the ride on the Every Town Counts Tour with my Dad over the past week".

But today was the first one in Spanish: "una Estrategia Nacional sobre la inmigracion."

Mitt Romney oddly asked himself a direct question and then refused to answer it.

He said that he had been asked if he would let the president's action stand, allowing children brought illegally to the US to stay under most circumstances.

His answer was that he would instead put in place a long-term solution. What that was he didn't say.

So far his immigration policy has amounted to slowly moving towards giving lukewarm backing to Marco Rubio's plan.

He did list a number of policies: more border patrol agents; a hi-tech fence; allow spouses and children of legal immigrants to stay; give those with an advanced degree a green card; and a path to citizenship for those who've served in the US military.

But this falls short of a comprehensive policy. It says nothing about what happens to those 11 million immigrants who arrived illegally.

His website is quite clear he opposes measures likes the president's:

"Mitt Romney opposes amnesty because he believes that it acts as a magnet encouraging illegal immigration. The last amnesty law passed in 1986 granted legal status to 2.7 million illegal immigrants. In the decades since, the illegal immigrant population has quadrupled. Mitt believes that an amnesty should not be permitted to happen again."

What is surprising about this whole business is that two skilled political operatives have ignored it for so long.

It is almost part of the constitution that "broken" should be inserted in the phrase "America's immigration system". And just about everyone agrees it is a serious policy priority.

It is also not exactly a secret that the Latino vote could be critical in swing states like Florida, Colorado and Nevada.

But both Mr Obama and Mr Romney have waited until five months before the election to turn their attention to it.

The difference seems to be that Mr Obama's new policy will win him votes, whereas Mr Romney's merely allows his to claim he's not totally ignoring the issue.

Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Mittwitt is a noodlespine. He had his chance to stand up on 2 legs and say the right thing during the primaries, but, coward that he is, he did not. The GOP are the grade school playground bullies, the ones who cut in line, the ones who went to the teacher with lies about everyone else, the ones who volunteered to be hall monitors so they could lord it over others. They are a party of cowards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    3. mscracker Brilliant ones (Richard Nixon) to dumb ones (George Bush), Republican presidents since Eisenhower have been disasters without exception.

    If Mittens looks good to you, it's only because everyone the GOP has managed to elect in the past 43 years has been so incredibly awful.

    The best thing they've done since '69 is make every Democrat since FDR look so incredibly good!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    10.USDon :
    It's purely political."
    I agree but in an election year, what isn't?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    10. USDon
    7 MINS AGO
    The difference is that Romney isn't President. President Obama has had 3 1/2 years to get this policy through.


    He was bit busy at the time Perhaps you don't remember the end of 2008.

    You are right though the timing of his last policy statement was total politics. But Romney has not put his name on anything, just said what he won't do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The difference is that Romney isn't President. President Obama has had 3 1/2 years to get this policy through. When he became president, he had a majority in the Senate and the House. If he believed in this policy, he would of bought it in then he didn't. President Obama is doing now to take focus off the economy. It's purely political.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Romney said as President he would pass e-Verify
    which would force employers to check
    legality of every worker

    When it comes to immigration policy
    Romney puts Americans first
    Obama puts illegals first

    Voting for Romney is Voting for Americans
    Voting for Obama is Voting for Illegals

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    "He did list a number of policies...a hi-tech fence"

    This is the man that America expects to solve some of the most precarious and complex of issues facing the country since the 20's?

    Words escape me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    His {Romney} answer was that he would instead put in place a long-term solution.
    What that was he didn't say

    Yes and need to fix the economy by doing ...
    Yes we to fix healthcare by repealing repealing Obamacare and repaling it with...
    Yes we need to (insert what important to you here) which only I can do by...

    Not single specific plan
    That's Romney Blows with the wind

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Obama may win more hispanic votes
    but his policy also will lose him many millions of votes
    likely losing more votes than he gained

    Americans have always had the motto
    No one is above the law+
    Justice for all

    Giving illegals amnesty would mean illegals are above Americans

    Obama's law is unjust b/c it makes foreigners exempt from American law
    whilst forcing Americans to follow the law

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The last Republican governor from Mass. to become president, Calvin Coolidge, became known as "Silent Cal". Should Romney prevail, Coolidge may come to be seen as a down-right blabbermouth by contrast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Population growth in the last census was driven by immigration-legal and illegal. The country needs these taxes to fund its entitlement programs. The best thing -unfair perhaps- is to let these people in -tax them like everyone else- and give them no path to citizenship so they pay into the system but not get anything out. That is the price the illegal immigrant would pay for breaking the law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I agree that the economy's the most important issue, but having Marco Rubio on the ticket I think would be huge.The old country club GOP are slowly dieing out & being replaced by younger folk & former bluecollar Democrats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Democrats and Republicans are still acting as though immigration policy was the only issue Hispanic voters care about when in fact they have the same interests and concerns as the rest of the electorate. I doubt Obama's "evolved" immigration policy will thrill many voters, Hispanic or otherwise, but Romney's lack of any coherent alternative could hurt him. The economy is still the big issue.

  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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