Thursday, April 26, 2012

Can Romney Pivot on Immigration and Win Over Latino Voters?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Ed Kilgore of The New Republic examines Mitt Romney's effort to pivot on immigration to attract Latino voters in this year's presidential race:

But as eager as Romney is to pivot, the vocal positions he took earlier in this campaign will make it very hard for him to do so. There are two lines it will be difficult for Romney to cross without inviting fresh charges of flip-flopping: his opposition to “amnesty,” which largely rules out any comprehensive immigration reform proposal that includes large-scale legalization; and his loud embrace of “self-deportation” of undocumented workers. This latter position, which seemed relatively mild in the context of GOP primaries where many voters favored forced deportation, now identifies Romney with the various state efforts inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070, which are designed to make life very difficult for illegal immigrants—and which tend to make life difficult for Hispanics generally. (Indeed, Romney has repeatedly endorsed SB 1070, calling it a national model, even as it receives a new burst of publicity as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments against it this week.)

Romney has nonetheless begun moderating his hard-line positions, with somewhat muddled results. His staff is now suggesting that Mitt’s endorsement of SB 1070 was partial, mainly based on the law’s features forcing employers to verify the documentation of workers. And there are reports that he’s no longer treating Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of the drafters of the Arizona law, as his principal advisor on immigration issues. Romney has also expressed interest in the idea of a “Republican version” of the DREAM Act, though he’s been hesitant to endorse Marco Rubio’s proposal to give undocumented people temporary legal status if they go to college or enter the military, presumably because that might discourage “self-deportation.”

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