Romney: Rejecting the Latino Vote

By Miguel Perez

February 28, 2012 5 min read

He has vowed to support the most extremist anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic measures that have been floated in this country in many years. He says he would oppose comprehensive immigration reform, veto the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, stop the federal government from suing states that violate our civil rights, and make undocumented immigrants so miserable that they would want to "self-deport."

And just when you think there is nothing else Mitt Romney can do to alienate Latino voters, when you think he already has suggested all the wrong ideas, welcomed all the wrong endorsements, and made all the repugnant statements Latinos need to hear, when there is no more room for him to pander to the right — surprise! There's more!

In just the last week, Romney said Arizona's infamous immigrant-bashing SB1070 is "a model" for the nation. When he outlined his so-called conservative record in the Arizona debate — as if throwing red meat to xenophobes — Romney bragged about how he enabled Massachusetts state police to enforce federal immigration laws "so that people could be taken out of our state that were (there) illegally" and how he "campaigned for and fought for English immersion in our schools."

Then, as if that wasn't enough, Romney was endorsed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, one of a handful of extremist politicians who have earned deep resentment in the Hispanic community. He already had received or sought the endorsements of other xenophobia peddlers such as Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, architect of state racial profiling laws that have been rejected by the courts, and Arizona sheriffs Paul Babeu and Joe Arpaio, both under investigation for abusing their power.

What is he going to do next, resurrect the ultimate anti-immigrant spirit of Pete Wilson? Well, yes.

Amazingly, the man who provoked the biggest pro-immigrant backlash in U.S. history, when he was governor of California, is now in Romney's camp. Pete Wilson is Romney's "honorary California chairman." This really takes the cake.

If you were advising the Romney camp on how to completely alienate the overwhelming majority of Latinos, you couldn't think of a better script.

Pete Wilson? Really?

"I'm honored to have Gov. Pete Wilson's support, because he's one of California's most accomplished leaders," Romney said in a prepared statement.

Really? What about the part when Wilson's anti-immigrant Proposition 187 led to the thrashing of the Republican Party in California in 1998? At that time, the backlash against Wilson's draconian measures helped California Democrats regain control of the governor's office for the first time in 16 years, and it helped elect more Latinos to important state positions than ever before.

In 1998, California voters, including a record number of Latinos, went to the polls to punish the immigrant bashers. At that time, it was said that Republicans didn't just lose an election but a whole generation of Latino voters. And now, with Romney becoming the new Pete Wilson, it looks like history is repeating itself.

Apparently, these politicians don't learn from history. Perhaps Romney doesn't know that in California many Latinos who had been apathetic about becoming involved in the political process reacted to Prop 187 by becoming American citizens, registering to vote in record numbers and giving Democrats the governorship and control of both legislative chambers.

Unfortunately, Latinos don't act; they react. Unless some politician really rattles their lives, they are apathetic about participating in the electoral process. But when someone such as Wilson or Romney comes along, look out.

And who is advising Romney on Latino voters and issues? What can they possibly be telling him that he would dig himself so deep? Are the xenophobia voters so numerous? And does he need them so badly in the primaries that he is willing to give up the general election?

For Pedro's sake! He once had undocumented immigrants mowing his lawn. He once favored comprehensive immigration reform. Does he know how offended Latinos are by his repulsive hypocrisy?

At a time when most political analysts agree that the Latino vote is likely to swing the "swing states" and determine who gets to be president, when even the Time magazine cover story assures us that Latinos will decide who gets to live in the White House, what could possibly make him throw it all away?

It's truly inexplicable.

If you are Barack Obama and you are concerned about the Latino vote, because you know you failed them in many ways, you can't wish for an easier opponent than Mitt Romney.

To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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