It’s what they need to guarantee victory in November, especially in 12 of the 15 swing states—places like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Virginia.
For Democrats who support President Obama, Latino over-performance in key states, as in 2010— such as concurrent high-turnout and wide-margins of support—equal not only his return to the White House, but also the ability to hang onto the slimmest of majorities in the Senate.
Because of the failures and backlash incurred by the Republican 527 group, “Latinos For Reform,” it is unlikely that the Republicans who support you, Mr. Romney, will embrace anything resembling a “Don’t Vote” campaign in this cycle.
However, your GOP base counts on new and strengthened voter ID laws, as well as changes to early voting and voter registration guidelines in states like Florida, New Mexico, and Colorado. This strategy is not really about protecting democracy from voter fraud; it’s all about making it tougher for President Obama to repeat his 2008 numbers. And surely you, and all those who oppose the President’s reelection, are studying 2000 and 2004 presidential election results closely to determine the specific cross sections of the Latino electorate, with which George W. Bush made gains.
As a Latino voter, I expect to hear an appeal from each of the general election candidates, as well as the surrogates, pundits, and third party spokespersons that support them. Regardless of the setting, I expect to be bombarded by social media posts, direct mail pieces, and talking points, prepared for the 24 hour news cycle, addressing issues like economic growth, healthcare access, job creation, and educational opportunity.
Sadly, when it comes to the DREAM Act, and the wider topic of comprehensive immigration reform, I expect similarly hackneyed scripts. You will be sympathetic to the DREAM Act’s military service provisions, in favor of the “best and brightest” from around the world continuing to pursue their educations at America’s universities, against “amnesty,” and for “border security.” And it will be followed by a predictable exchange of partisan finger-pointing in a blame game that conveniently ignores the 3 GOP Senators and 8 Republicans in the House of Representatives who supported the DREAM Act in 2010, as well as the 5 Democratic Senators and 38 Democrats in the House of Representatives who opposed it.
Like most Latino voters, I understand the details of comprehensive immigration reform plans promoted during a presidential election year are extremely nuanced. Every word must be focus group tested, turf surveyed, and internally polled. Therefore, since my mother lives on the border of Somis, California, an unincorporated community populated by commercial farmland, I won’t be surprised when both of your campaigns begin peppering her with statements of support for an AgJOBS compromise.
Please know, however, that while we’re wading through sound bites regarding the “broken immigration system,” what we’re hoping for is any sign that you understand that current policies are unfair, arbitrary, and inhumane.
Despite the fact that ICE deported a record number 396,906 human beings last year alone, you’ve called for the construction of more border fencing, opposition to “amnesty” for anyone who is undocumented. This included DREAM Act-eligible youth, in addition to expressing such fervent support for anti-immigrant legislation at all levels of government that you won the endorsement of leaders in the “immigration crackdown movement,” long before establishing your delegate lead in the race for the GOP nomination.
But thus far, Mr. Romney, you’ve avoided even acknowledging the decency and potential contribution of undocumented youth like medieval hypochondriacs who avoided the bubonic plague.
You called Arizona’s SB 1070 a “model” for the rest of the country in a debate this year, and gave an interview last year supporting its implementation because of the “failure of the federal government to do its job. And on April 20—despite being urged to soften your tone and distance yourself from draconian stances on immigration that defined the Republican Primary—your spokesperson confirmed Arizona SB 1070 co-author Kris Kobach is not only your enthusiastic supporter, but an “informal adviser” to your campaign.
Mr. Romney: perhaps you should rethink your position and acknowledge the injustices faced by mixed status families, and be willing to defend the rights and humanity of the undocumented. You might be surprised to find millions of Latino voters would support you. But, at the moment, you seem lost in the fog.