Latinos are the country’s most rapidly growing voting bloc, and the latest polls show that President Obama has successfully captured the interest of these voters to a much larger degree than Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Polls show that President Obama is ahead of Romney by 66% to 26% when it comes to registered Latino voters. Incidentally, these are also the voters who may make the biggest impact in major must-win states such as Virginia, Colorado, Florida, and Nevada.
Mitt Romney is aware of the importance of the immigration issue in this year’s election and has taken steps to appeal to Latino voters. Recently, he took part in a talk on Univision, a Spanish-language network. He also recently presented a speech before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in California. In speaking about immigration, Romney has stressed that he will make lasting changes to fix the immigration system and has repeated that he feels immigration is beneficial for the US.
However, Romney’s words may not appeal to Latino voters after all. Some Latino activists and immigration rights advocates have stated that Romney cannot compete with President Obama when it comes to immigration. Part of the problem is that the Republican party has a shaky history when it comes to immigration. Republicans have recently opposed most legislation which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Many Republicans have also supported Arizona’s controversial immigration laws. In contrast, President Obama opposed the Arizona law and has supported the DREAM Act.
Republicans also have a restrictionist wing, which believes that the US should limit the number of immigrants – even legal immigrants – that it admits because they feel the country already has too many immigrants. In recent speeches, Romney has attempted to distance himself from this group by stating that immigration is good for the US. By doing so, he is aligning himself with Republicans such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who support immigration in some forms for the economic good.
Romney has repeated stressed that he opposes amnesty, or granting legal status to undocumented immigrants. He has also stated that he believes in strict immigration enforcement and opposes undocumented immigration. His latest speeches, however, distance him from the more extreme immigration views in the party. However, many feel that his speeches are too little, especially for those who support the DREAM Act and other policies which would grant legal status to undocumented immigrants. Some also feel that Romeny’s speeches come too late, since earlier in the campaign he did not so clearly define his views on immigration and instead focused on economic issues.