Where does the Republican front-runner stand on immigration?
With victories in both Iowa and New Hampshire, many political pundits are predicting that Mitt Romney will receive the Republican nomination for the Presidency. Although Immigration is likely to be a hot topic and has been highlighted by many of Romney’s GOP rivals including Texas Governor Perry, Romney has largely stayed silent on the issue. This is changing with the upcoming South Carolina primary.
Mitt Romney is now making immigration a central issue as his campaign moves to South Carolina. Because South Carolina is being sued by the federal government for its crackdown on illegal immigrants, immigration remains a hot button issue in the state. Therefore, Mitt Romney has no choice but to highlight the issue.
Kris Kobach, the author of Arizona’s controversial immigration bill, has recently endorsed Romney and stated that Romney “would be the candidate who will finally secure the borders and put a stop to the magnets, like in-state tuition, that encourage illegal aliens to remain in our country unlawfully.” Given Governor Perry’s history of allowing illegal immigrants in Texas to receive in-state tuition, this is a clear swipe at his Romney’s rival. Romney has repeatedly stated that he would veto the DREAM Act and also require any illegal immigrant who eventually obtain a green card to be forced to return to their home countries to receive their green cards at the respective US Embassy. This shows no knowledge of the 10 and 3 year bar problems, along with the fact that families could be separated for years. Romney however has tried to pander to Hispanic voters by touting his ties to Latin America. At a rally last week, Romney mentioned how his great-grandfather brought the family to Mexico in 1885. Romney also mentioned how his father was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States when he was five years old.
Romney’s proposals may lead to some problems in Florida. As the GOP continues to try to court the Latino vote, his anti-immigrant stance is likely to lose him votes in heavily immigrant areas such as Miami-Dade county. Hispanic voters in the GOP primary may be attracted to Gingrich’s plan. Gingrich seeks to create a proposal where by local panels would decide if illegal immigrants who have been in the country for over 25 years should be allowed to stay. Gingrich has also indicated a friendly immigration approach for business employees and entrepreneurs to prevent the brain drain of bright immigrants in our schools. Like Bush, he would like to set up a guest worker program and increase the number of certain employment visas.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been instituting a new program to train ICE officers how to determine which immigrants are deemed serious enough to be put in removal proceedings. However, ICE has responded by merely stepping up the deportation of overstays and non-criminal final orders cases. Some believe that Obama is now trying to court the Latino vote by only targeting high profile illegal immigrants. However, it’s hard to forget that the administration did deport over 400,000 illegal immigrants in 2011 which is by far the highest statistic of any president.
Although questions remain as to where candidates stand on the issue of immigration, at the very least this issue is gaining momentum in the 2012 election. There may be some flip-flopping, but flip-flopping discussion on immigration is better than no discussion at all.