Latinos were hoping that Mitt Romney or one of his surrogates would provide some insight into the Republican presidential candidate’s stance on immigration at the Republican National Convention—but that didn’t happen.
Instead, Romney’s only remarks about immigration in his convention speech were on how the United States is made up of immigrants who came to this country looking to “build a better life” for them and their children.
His son, Craig, who has appeared in several Spanish-language ads and is working on Hispanic outreach for the Romney campaign, also spoke at the convention but didn’t say anything about his father’s stance on immigration. Craig did, however, say in Spanish that Romney “es un hombre de familia” and that Romney “valora que somos una nación de inmigrantes, unidos en el deseo de lograr el sueño americano.”
Prominent Republican Latinos—including New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz—also avoided immigration in their convention speeches. Cruz did, however, tell Telemundo on Monday that he thinks Romney should overturn President Barack Obama’s deferred action program.
Even Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who during a speech Tuesday called on the Republican Party to lead on immigration reform, didn’t mention it when he spoke and introduced Romney at the convention Thursday night. On Tuesday, Rubio said the issue of immigration would not be solved as long as it “remains a political football” between Democrats and Republicans.
All together, it seems that the issue of immigration was absent at the Republican National Convention. Political analysts are predicting that won’t be the case at the Democratic National Convention, which will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, from Sept. 4-6. They predict Obama will mention it in his speech while other speakers will criticize the tough stance on immigration that Romney took during the Republican primaries.
Earlier this year, the former Massachusetts governor vowed to veto the DREAM Act, backed Kris Kobach’s “self-deportation” idea, supported Arizona-style immigration laws, and wasn’t clear on whether he would repeal the Obama administration’s deferred action program for undocumented youth.
Several prominent Republicans—including Sen. Rubio, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—advised Romney to soften his tone on immigration, but he didn’t indicate that he would. And in recent weeks, the Republican presidential candidate has remained silent on the issue.
Jorge Plasencia, the board chair of the National Council of La Raza, said Romney’s silence has left many Latinos wondering whether his hard-line immigration stance remains the same.
“Hispanics are eager to learn from Romney what he feels about immigration reform and what his thinking is,” he said. “We’ve been waiting to hear his stance, and what I’m hearing is that he will be addressing it soon.”
Until then, he said immigration will continue to be “the elephant in the room.”
But according to several Latino politicians and Republican strategists, Romney won’t talk about his stance on immigration anytime soon. They’ve indicated he will focus his speeches on how Latinos would have a better economic future under his presidency.
During a Tuesday panel discussion sponsored by Univision, ABC News, and the National Journal, former Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) suggested that Romney would not discus his stance on immigration in the next final two months of his campaign.
“He’s decided he will deal with this issue as a president, not as a candidate,” Martinez said during the panel discussion.
Hector Barreto, one of Romney’s advisers, wasn’t clear on whether Romney’s immigration plan is aligned to the Republican platform, which includes completing the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, implementing a mandatory employment verification system and ending sanctuary cities and in-state tuition for undocumented students.
Instead, Barreto told VOXXI that Romney’s immigration plan is one that “actually fixes the immigration system”—but he didn’t give details on what the plan looks like or how it would do that.
On deferred action, Barreto said Romney “will have his own action, but it won’t be a short-term thing.”
“One of the things that he’s looking for is a complete solution,” Barreto said. “He’s not trying to piece-meal it here and there, but he really wants to try to fix it once and for all.”
On the DREAM Act, Barreto said the Republican presidential candidate doesn’t support the current version of the bill and wants “to do something different,” such as giving a green card to undocumented immigrants who graduate with an advanced degree and legalizing those who serve in the military.