Romney’s Latino Problem
Mitt Romney speaks at a rally in Derry, New Hampshire on Jan. 7, 2012. Photo: UPI
The Republican frontrunner just stomped on the one non-negotiable issue.
Mitt Romney at a rally in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Jan. 18, 2012. Photo: UPI

Latino-Americans are a diverse lot politically, and nobody can take their vote for granted. But Mitt Romney, the current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination for 2012, just stomped on the non-negotiable issue: the DREAM Act. If elected, he has said, he would veto it.

Nine out of 10 Latino-American registered voters support the DREAM Act, and one-third say immigration issues are “extremely important to them personally,” according to the latest national poll by the Pew Hispanic Center, published Dec. 28, 2011. The DREAM Act offers a path to citizenship to college students and military personnel who were brought here illegally as children.

Ironically, President Barack Obama has a Latino problem, too. The same poll showed a high level of disenchantment with Obama, partly due to his failure to push through the DREAM Act when it last reached a Senate vote and came only five votes short of a filibuster-proof majority.

President Barack Obama speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Awards Gala in Washington D.C on Sept. 15, 2010. Photo: UPI

Obama may get extra points for good intentions now. Faced with a series of Republican primaries dominated by conservative party activists, Romney has swerved to the right. He also accepted the endorsement of Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who is the force behind the “show me your papers” laws in South Carolina and Arizona as well as Kansas.

To some Latino-Americans, the DREAM Act is a business issue:

“I wouldn’t vote for Romney because he doesn’t support immigration reform or the DREAM Act. My business depends on Hispanics, basically, and if there’s no immigration reform we are going to be very affected. Not just me, but all the businesses that, like us, depend on the Latino community,” Des Moines businessman Juan Rodriguez, who is a Republican, told ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe.

Romney “is unfortunately taking one of the harshest tones” on immigration reform, Tamar Jacoby, who heads ImmigrationWorks USA, told business news service Bloomberg News. The group she heads is a national federation of employers in favor of immigration reform.

For others, it’s mainly political:

The country’s largest Latino Republican group, Somos Republicans, this week endorsed Newt Gingrich pointedly saying they “believe Newt Gingrich knows the importance of the Latino community.”


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