Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney gave what his handlers characterized as a "major" speech on immigration policy to a group of Hispanic elected officials. The issue is huge. The speech...not so much.
In the Republican primaries, Romney sounded like a member of the Know Nothing Party. Arizona's stop and frisk anti-immigrant law, "...was a model for the nation." Romney promised to veto the Dream Act; legislation creating a path to citizenship for young people championed by President Obama. At the height of his jingoistic ravings, Romney suggested making America so inhospitable to immigrants, especially Hispanic immigrants, they would deport themselves.
(Enter the Etch-A-Sketch) In front of the Hispanic audience, Romney didn't mention Arizona once. He didn't mention the Dream Act or his promised veto, nor would he say if he would reverse Obama's executive order allowing young illegal immigrants to stay in this country. He did not mention laws in Alabama and other states making it a crime to rent to an illegal immigrant or laws intended to reduce Hispanic voting by requiring identification...all of which he supports. Instead, he said as president he would seek "common ground" on immigration with the Congress. He would increase the number of green cards and make it easier for immigrants who have needed skills to stay in the country. If there are 11.1 million illegal immigrants in this country, Romney's "major" speech addressed .1 of them.
Romney ignored completely the 11 million illegal immigrants already here. He ignored the industries they fuel and the problems they face. He made no mention of the children of these immigrants, born in this country and thus American citizens, who watch as their parents are deported under Republican immigration proposals. Romney failed to address the healthcare and educational needs of this population. In the primaries, Romney attacked Texas governor Rick Perry when he advocated in-state tuition breaks and assistance to the children of illegal immigrants. He clearly opposed any such move. In his "major" speech on immigration, he offered platitudes and bromides while appearing to continue to reinforce the impression he will say anything to anyone to get elected.
Romney promised if elected he will pass a comprehensive immigration reform package. He fails to mention President Bush tried the same thing only to be shot down by his own party including opposition from Romney. Romney's speech reminded me of a stand-up routine Will Durst used to do. He invented the standard political stump speech, which anyone could give no matter what they believed. "...Crime, bad; babies and puppies good...hunger, bad; food good...sunshine good, storms bad;" Romney's foray into the subject of immigration was mainly pabulum offered in as inexact and unparticular ways as possible.
The one message Romney tried to hammer home was Obama takes the votes of Hispanics for granted. Obama promised to pass immigration reform, but he failed. It is tribute to the disdain Romney holds for his audience, and Hispanics in general, that he thinks they don't know it is the Republicans in Congress, in Arizona, in Alabama who stoke the fires of intolerance and nativism and who refused to support Obama's Dream Act or any other proposals he offered. They understand the commitment of Republicans to pander to a white male base. They bristle at accounts Romney might name Sen. Marco Rubio as his running mate to attract the Hispanic vote. Rubio, who is Cuban, is a privileged and pampered member of an immigrant class given special treatment by this country. Any Cuban who can touch the sandy shore of an American beach is given automatic asylum, and eventually, citizenship. This is a privilege no other Hispanic enjoys. It is an insult to Hispanic voters to think just because his name is Rubio; they will vote for Romney and ignore Romney's anti- immigrant positions.
The answer to the 11.1 million illegal immigrants in this country is to set up a system where by all that qualify can become citizens. Regressives scream "amnesty" and are horrified we would reward illegal behavior, but we have done it in the past to good affect and should do it again. The nations of Western Europe and the industrialized world, face a demographic time bomb. They aren't having enough children and their populations are aging rapidly. America does not face this problem as severely because of the age of the immigrants and because they are producing allot of children. They are a net benefit to this country. Billions of tax dollars are spent each year trying to control illegal immigration. Half of the institution where I reside would be empty if everyone who was here for illegally entering the country was released. The truth is, what reduced the numbers of illegal immigrants coming into this country was a slow down in the economy, and a lack of jobs...not law enforcement. Amnesty would save billions, keep families intact and provide for new generations of workers and citizens and it would unite rather than continue to divide us. It is a win/win for everyone except the "pure" Americans who control the Republican Party.
Romney's "major" speech turned out to be cotton candy. It smelled sweet but was full of air. At least he showed he still flips with the best of floppers. For a presidential candidate who wants to be taken seriously on issues of import, his speech wasn't worth the teleprompter it was projected on.