Republicans and Mitt Romney have gotten themselves into a deep pickle with their xenophobic approach to illegal immigration. With the President’s move this week to end deportation of illegals brought into the country as children, Romney finds himself between a rock (not alienating Latino voters) and a hard place (not alienating his base).
Mitt Romney and the Republicans have found a number of creative ways to side-step the question, “Will you repeal Obama’s immigration order to grant temporary relief from deportation to the children of illegal immigrants?”
Why is the GOP evading? Perhaps because the future of their party’s electability is at stake. According to the 2010 census, the Hispanic population makes up 16.3% of the country’s population. That’s a 43% increase since the previous census in 2000, making Hispanics not only the nation’s largest minority group, but also its fastest-growing one.
If Mitt Romney and the Republicans say that they would, in fact, repeal Obama’s new initiative, they risk alienating an increasingly influential voting bloc for this election and perhaps many more to come. On the other hand, if Romney admits that the president was right, he risks aggravating a conservative base whose high turnout in such a close race will be crucial for victory.
This, ladies and gentleman, is called a pickle. Hence the evasion.
The GOP has made a conscious decision to offer nativists and xenophobes a comfortable home where their extremist views go unchallenged. No one should be surprised if voters who think differently about immigration issues — including some who are recent immigrants themselves — feel unwelcome.Where is Mitt Romney on all of this, you ask? Excellent question. Former British prime minister Gordon Brown’s withering putdown in 2009 of David Cameron, the current prime minister, is perfect to describe Romney: “The more he talks, the less he actually says.”
Adding further to Republican’s dilemma on this issue is that 64% of all likely voters are in favor of Obama’s policy move. That has got to have Republicans cringing. As for the Hispanic vote alone, Dems would most likely have received a similar percentage (67%) to what they got in 2008. The bigger result of the policy move is that it forces Romney to go one way or the other. He either sticks to his hardline stance on illegal immigration and declares he’ll rescind the Obama policy or, similar to Marco Rubio, he agrees that the measure is the humane, fair thing to do. There is no way he can sit on the fence for the next five months…although he might try to do just that. We shall see.
What we do know for sure, though, is that catering to a base of xenophobic, hatemongers does have its pitfalls.
(The Romney source photograph is a Creative Commons licensed image from photographer Gage Skidmore.)