During yesterday’s GOP presidential debate in the Grand Canyon State, Mitt Romney called Arizona a “model” for the country. And, when addressing Department of Justice lawsuits filed in response to the controversial SB 1070 immigration law, Romney then said, “I will drop those lawsuits on Day One.”
In cleverly stating that he essentially supports Arizona’s efforts to enforce immigration law, Romney put himself at odds with over 70% of Latinos who do not support SB 1070. He also showed that he is willing to let a law stand that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined to be unconstitutional.
Plainly, Romney has not been taking cues on immigration from his Mexican cousins. The lack of savvy on the Latino vote is both telling and As Politic365 contributor Andrea Nill Sanchez explained earlier in the month:
“…In fact, he proposes lowering levels of legal and illegal immigration. He opposes immigration reform and claims he only supports legal immigration. Yet, according to him, that means implementing a policy of attrition through enforcement – in other words, making life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they choose to self-deport. He has proudly boasted the endorsement of the primary legal architect of the harshest immigration laws in the country as proof of his commitment to such an approach.
Romney’s stance seems especially harsh coming from someone whose own ancestors benefitted from Mexico’s generous immigration laws. In fact, there may have not even been a Mitt Romney if it weren’t for the refuge Mexico provided his family.”
Aside from not giving much credence to the hypocrisy in his own familial immigration story, Romney’s message last night also signals that in some ways he tacitly approves of the environment that SB 1070 left behind. In a post-SB 1070 Arizona, people witnessed racially motivated hate crimes, boycotts, and the banning of Mexican American studies at the K-12 level. And the former Massachusetts Governor didn’t even have to mention Sheriff Joe Arpaio by name – many Latinos naturally connote the controversial sheriff with the Grand Canyon State.
Last night, Romney also touted the E-Verify system in terms of sanctioning employers who hire undocumented workers. Yet, this system has been found to have an error rate that could prevent citizens or legally authorized workers from working altogether. Not only is that problematic for “migrant workers,” but specific industries, such as agriculture, are already taking a big economic hit. Plus there is the cost of implementing this kind of system nationally that Romney did not mention.
In focusing on enforcement and highlighting Arizona as a “model,” Romney sealed his fate with the vast majority of Latino voters last night. He did not once offer a reasonable solution on how to deal with the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants already here in the U.S. Romney also didn’t say anything to help him win over a segment of the Latino electorate who might have been a little more receptive: Latino Mormons.