Romney Should Stop Hispandering, Run On Illegal Immigration Record
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Dear God! What in the world was Mitt Romney doing addressing the Republican National Hispanic Assembly last week? (The RNHA is a thirty-three year old front group created by George H. W Bush).

There was Romney, Hispandering to the choir about "Hispanic family values," and all the other nonsense that candidates just can't help but utter when they mingle with Hispanics.

If you want to see how little influence Romney's canned speech had on the sparse crowd, look closely at the photo that accompanies the AP story linked below.

A guy in the front row is text messaging, a woman at the same table is digging in her purse ,possibly looking for her fingernail file, another older woman in the back has fallen asleep, the man next to her is eyeballing the door, probably hoping he can bolt out of the room ASAP.[ Romney Touts Immigration To Hispanics,  by Andrew Miga, Associated Press, July 22, 2007]

Even though Romney has been in and out of politics for thirteen years and compiled a good record on immigration as Massachusetts' governor, he's slipping backward and falling into the pandering trap that plagues every candidate—Republican and Democrat— when it comes to the so-called "Hispanic vote."

When it comes to politics and immigration, candidate's heads are hard.

The pity in Romney's case is that he started out strongly on our side. But, as evidenced by his performance at the RNHA, indications are that Romney is getting—and listening to—bad advice.

In 1994, Romney lost to Edward M. Kennedy in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race. But in 2002, Romney was elected the state's governor. Although immigration wasn't an issue in either of those campaigns, Romney learned quickly on the job.

  • In 2003, Romney opposed any and all attempts to give drivers' licenses to illegal aliens, threatening to veto any such legislation if it reached his desk. Romney called the plan to give aliens licenses would give "…tacit support from our government that gives an indication of legitimacy." [No free ride for immigrants, but they'd like licenses to drive, by Avi Steinberg, The Boston Globe, January 9, 2005]

  • In 2002, Romney argued strongly for English immersion promising, according to his press secretary, "He will veto anything that weakens or delays English immersion." The pro-English ballot measure was a big winner garnering 70 percent of the vote.

This year, once on the campaign trail, Romney came out early and often as "strongly opposed" to the McCain-Kennedy Amnesty/ Immigration Surge bill.  He called their proposed legislation "not the answer."  

And earlier, Romney said:

  • "We must reform the current immigration laws so we can secure our borders, implement a mandatory biometrically-enabled and tamper-proof documentation and employment-verification system."

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm for Romney's perfectly correct position on illegal immigration has been watered down somewhat by his call, in various speeches, for an "increase" in legal immigration.

Romney's endorsement of more legal immigration brings me to my central thesis about how—for maximum political gain across the entire spectrum of voters—Romney should have addressed the Republican NHA,

If Romney wants to be president as badly as he thinks he does, then he should light a fire under the group by pressing them on immigration. Talk to Hispanics openly and honestly about immigration and its direct impact on them.

At the very least, such an approach would prove to the general public, and to disaffected Republicans in particular, that Romney recognizes the dangers of unchecked immigration.

A bold speech would generate headlines, give favorably disposed talk show hosts plenty of fodder, and immeasurably lift Romney's chances at the big prize.

If I were advising Romney on immigration—and I am available to do so for a modest fee—here is the speech I would have written for him to present to the RNHA:

"I know that many of you favor more immigration into the U.S. Some of you—perhaps the majority—think that immigrants keep the country vital and diverse while illegal aliens 'do jobs Americans won't.'

"But I respectfully disagree. Those 'jobs Americans won't do' may be ones that you might one day covet. But over-immigration has made it difficult for you to get and keep any kind of job, especially a well-paying one. Your wages have stagnated because of excessive immigration.

"Your children cannot get an adequate education because schools are crowded with non-English speaking students that require special attention—attention that should be going to your child. You want the American dream to come true for your children. But it only becomes more elusive as the immigration wave continues.

"America's health care system is overburdened. If you have insurance, your premiums are higher every year. You pay more because they—illegal aliens—pay nothing. Too many uninsured immigrants have forced emergency clinics all over the country to close.

"Many of you no doubt felt that the McCain-Kennedy bill that would have provided amnesty to as many as 20 million should have passed. But again I respectfully disagree. Twenty years ago, our great American president Ronald Reagan said that the 1986 amnesty was a one-time forgiveness to illegal immigrants. I do not intend to break President Reagan's promise to Americans.

"While my position on immigration is firm, my mind remains open. If any of you in the audience can give me specific examples of how your lives are improved by increased immigration, I will take them into consideration.

"Or if any of you can provide me with tangible reasons why America should go back on the word of President Reagan, then please tell me."

Needless to say, it's unlikely that Romney would give a speech even remotely resembling this one.

But it would represent no more than a modest gamble on his part.

Romney doesn't carry the extremist label that has unfairly been attached to Congressman Tom Tancredo…All the easier for him for him to pull this speech off.

And if Romney thinks that the country isn't ready for some refreshing straight talk about immigration and its consequences, then he should look at the disaster that is John McCain's campaign.

McCain's unbending endorsement of amnesty and unchecked illegal immigration have moved him from the front of the Republican pack to the back of it.

Romney has a chance. But to make the most of it, he should run on his strong record on illegal aliens as Massachusetts' governor.

Throw this "family values" stuff into the wastebasket.

Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.

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