Mitt Romney is repeating big promises he made to the immigrant community this week during the presidential debate. And this time, his campaign’s doing it in a new Spanish language ad. But immigrant rights groups say Romney’s misrepresenting his hardline anti-immigrant agenda, and today called on the Romney campaign to take the ad down.
“We need real solutions on immigration, and real talk,” said Erika Andiola, the political director of the Dream Action Coalition. “And we need to stop using empty words for the Latino community.” The empty words Andiola was referring to are from the ad released yesterday, wherein a narrator highlights President Obama’s well-known failure to get comprehensive immigration reform passed in his first term the way he promised to on the 2008 campaign trail. “Now, the Democrats say they never made a promise,” the woman says.
The narrator then says that Romney, meanwhile, has worked on a bipartisan plan to reunite families, establish a system for work permits and offer “permanent solutions” for undocumented young people, against a backdrop of images of a rather pleased looking Romney signing a bill, and Romney standing next tea party darling and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. The implication being that Romney would do what President Obama didn’t.
Andiola and other undocumented youth joined by other immigrant rights organizations said that the reality of Romney’s immigration record—in which he vetoed a state version of the DREAM Act when he was governor of Massachusetts, and during which he’s praised Arizona’s SB 1070 and staffed his immigration advisory committee with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the famed architect of SB 1070 and copycat laws like it—tells a very different story.
“I have to say the ad is a fraud,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, the D.C.-based immigration reform advocacy organization. Sharry said that much like other statements on immigration Romney’s made this fall, one day announcing a pro-immigrant stance and the next day having those remarks “clarified,” which is to say recanted, this ad represents more of that kind of tactic.
For instance, just this month, Romney declared that he’d protect the two-year deferred action program for undocumented youth if elected.
“The people who received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid,” Romney told the Denver Post in a surprise announcement. And yet, the very next day his campaign said that actually, Romney would not continue the program once elected.
The real evidence of Romney’s actual leanings lie in who he’s taking his immigration advice from, Sharry said. Kobach and Roy Beck, founder of the immigration restrictionnist organization NumbersUSA, which has attempted to roll back birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents, and tried to tie environmental concerns to his anti-immigrant agenda, among just a few of his pet projects.
Despite the warm tone Romney’s projecting toward Latino voters, who prefer President Obama by a wide margin, immigrant rights groups say Romney’s actual stance on immigration policy is far less friendly to the Latino community.