While appearing on Face the Nation, Mitt Romney did not directly answer questions about whether he would overturn President Obama’s newest immigration policy if elected. That policy gives children of undocumented immigrants freedom from deportation and the ability to work legally in the US for two years. Romney instead called the new DHS directive a politically-motivated quick fix and promised that he would provide permanent solutions if elected.
Romney’s track record with immigration issues, however, has some worried. In 2004, Romney was part of a fundraising effort for a GOP radio and television ad campaign. As part of that effort, Romney funded ads that looked at issues such as preventing undocumented students from enjoying in-state tuition rates. Romney’s comments about immigration during the GOP primaries also served to alienate some Hispanic voters.
In the 2008 election, Romney was running against Mike Huckabee before he was knocked out by Senator John McCain. At the time, Romney attacked Huckabee’s stance on in-state tuition rates, saying that it was unfair to give children of undocumented immigrants an in-state tuition rate.
During the recent GOP primaries, Romney spoke out against Texas Governor Rick Perry because Perry supported in-state tuition rates for undocumented students. During the primaries, Romney also spoke of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration law a “model for the nation.” Romney has also publicly supported self-deportation, even though many experts predict that self-deportation and any rules made to discourage immigration can hurt the US economy, especially in states that rely heavily on immigration for workers.
Romney is often seen as a moderate Republican, but his actions and words may have alienated some Hispanic voters. Early polls do suggest that President Obama is seen more favorably and supported more by Hispanic voters. Nevertheless, Romney has made attempts to appeal to this group of voters, largely by promising health care reforms, jobs, economic reforms, tax reforms, and other changes that would benefit all communities.
Some polls do suggest that the strategy could be successful – at least in part. Hispanic voters, like all voters, are concerned about health care, the economy, education, and other issues which affect their daily lives. In fact, many Hispanic voters have suggested in polls that they will be considering candidates on these issues rather than on immigration reform. Nevertheless, Romney’s stance on immigration could hurt him, especially in key states such as Florida, where there is a large immigrant voter base. Although many Hispanic voters are concerned about the economy and the same issues as other voters, immigration is a key issue for many who will cast their ballot this fall.