On Monday, the Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney addressed the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at its 33rd annual convention. During this address in Los Angeles, Romney talked up job creation, reducing the deficit, and finally immigration.
In leaving his immigration remarks at the end of the speech, Romney said this:
“Finally, I want to say a word about immigration. Americans may disagree about how to fix our immigration system, but I think we can all agree that it is broken.
For years, Republicans and Democrats seem to have been more interested in playing politics with immigration than with actually fixing it. Candidate Obama said that one of his highest priorities would be to fix immigration in his first year in office. Despite his party having majorities in both houses of Congress, the President never even offered up a bill. Like so many issues confronting our nation, when it comes to immigration, politics has been put ahead of people for too long.
I will work with Republicans and Democrats to permanently fix our immigration system.
We will never achieve a legal immigration system that is fair and efficient if we do not first get control of our borders. I believe we can all agree that what we need are fair and enforceable immigration laws that will stem the flow of illegal immigration, while strengthening legal immigration.
I want to make the system far more simple and transparent — you shouldn’t have to hire lawyers to find out how to legally immigrate to the United States. I will shift our diversity visas to instead bring together immediate family members. I will structure our temporary worker visa program so that it meets the needs of our employers. And if someone gets an advanced degree, I want them to stay here, so I’d staple a green card to their diploma.
America is a nation of immigrants, and immigration is essential to our economic growth and prosperity. One million immigrants legally enter America every year–the largest number of any country in the world. I like that. I want to preserve our heritage of robust legal immigration. And I want to make sure that those who abide by the law and wait in line to immigrate here legally are not at a disadvantage.
That’s why I oppose amnesty, because amnesty will make it harder, not easier to strengthen our legal immigration system. It’s also why my administration will establish an employment verification system so that every business can know whether the people it hires are legally eligible for employment. If a business cheats, there will be strict penalties for that business.
In the midst of a difficult re-election, President Obama created what he calls a “stopgap measure” for children who were brought here illegally, through no fault of their own.
Instead of playing immigration politics with these children, I will pursue permanent immigration reform, and I will start by ensuring that those who serve in our military have the opportunity to become legal permanent residents of the country they fought to defend. Those who have risked their lives in defense of America have earned the right to make their life in America.
I’ve spoken often about how proud I am of my father. He was born to American parents living in Mexico. When he was five, they left everything behind, and started over in the United States.”
These remarks represent Romney’s attempt to soften the immigration stance he has taken over the course of the campaign. The problem is that you don’t really ever “permanently fix” the immigration system as the reasons for immigrating and the needs of the country are always changing. Additionally, Romney’s speech did nothing to address the some 11 million undocumented people already present in the US., and he definitely did not address what he would do with the young people who have received deferred action under the Obama administration’s new directive. He did suggest that those young people who serve in the military would have a path forward toward legal residency, but what about those who attend or who have attended college?
Predictably, the Democrats jumped on Romney’s appearance at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce right before he delivered his address. Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Representative Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) told the press, “Comprehensive immigration reform deals with all aspects of immigration reform, including the 11 million undocumented workers in the country” in responding to a question about Mitt Romney’s newly affirmed opposition to amnesty.
Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-California) on the same press call reminded the press that Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act and that he vetoed the Massachusetts version of the DREAM Act when he was governor. Becerra added, “For Romney and many Republicans, the DREAM Act is tantamount to amnesty…even DREAMErs are having to pay a fine, obey the laws, pay taxes, etc.” in referring to the new deferred action for childhood arrivals program.
And even before Reps. Gonzalez and Becerra spoke to the press, the Obama campaign had already sent out this video on Monday morning about what Romney would not say to the Latino audience at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which highlights some of the things the GOP nominee said during the primary season about immigration and health care reform: