Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now! (36101)

After weeks of ignoring the dreaded “I” word, Mitt Romney, the heir apparent Republican presidential hopeful, has found his voice thanks to President Barack Obama.

Less than a week after the president shocked Republicans and thrilled most immigrants and immigrant advocates with his own version of the DREAM Act that will allow young, undocumented migrants to stay in the United States and work without fear of deportation for the next two years, Romney suddenly realized that immigration reform is “a moral imperative.”

This is a bait-and-switch tactic that cannot be trusted. Only months ago, Romney held a hard-line position as he tried his best to win conservative votes in the primary and insisted he was all for self-deportation; enforcement of the laws against the 12 million “illegals”; no amnesty; no free tuition; and a 2,600-mile fence between the United States and Mexico. At the time, he also criticized rivals Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich for policies seen as friendly to immigrants, and he said he would veto the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for the same 800,000 young immigrants who Obama’s policy shift on June 15 will help.

Now, with months to go before the general election and realizing his conservative, Caucasian-only base is not enough for a win, Romney has changed his strategy of simply ignoring the hot-button issue and is seeking to soften his position–if you can trust anything that comes out his mouth–to win the Latino vote.

On Thursday, June 21, Romney sought to broaden his appeal among this bloc by telling delegates at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference in Disney World that he would help immigrants reunite with their families; work to provide legal status to immigrants who serve in the military; raise caps on the number of immigrants who can secure temporary work visas; and allow those who earn advanced degrees at an American university to receive a green card.

What a switch in tactic from just a few months ago.

Suddenly, Romney sees the light and realizes America is a land of immigrants and opportunity, and out of the clear blue he is now proud of the fact that he was born to American parents living in Mexico–a fact he tried to push down early in the campaign.

“We can find common ground here, and we must,” Romney was quoted as saying. “We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains a land of opportunity–both for those who were born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws and want to come to our shores.”

Guess we should all thank Obama for Romney’s sudden change of heart, but woe be to anyone who actually buys this BS, because that’s all it is–a pack of lies in this silly season of summer politics to simply attain power.

Romney and his Republican team were caught off-guard by the president’s announcement on June 15. As we would say in the Caribbean, “That sure shut their mouths.” Now he and his party are forced to play catch up despite the bitter rhetoric and lack of support for bipartisan immigration reform since President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy all agreed that comprehensive reform is the only way to solve the problem of 12 million in the shadow.

Now Romney’s forced response is to simply slam Obama as pushing only “a temporary measure,” and insisting that if he wins, he will “put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure.”

Well, good luck with that, Romney. You will need it, especially now that polls give Obama a dominant 2-to-1 advantage among Hispanic voters, who make up an increasing portion of the electorate in key swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida. Bill Burton, founder of Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing Obama, summed it up well enough when he said the speech was “an attempt to cover up the divisive rhetoric and draconian policies he has espoused for years on immigration.”

“Today’s slick speech will not change the fact that Romney has repeatedly used divisive language to propose an extreme immigration policy,” Burton wrote in a memo to reporters. Slick Mitt! Can’t agree more!

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.