In the wake of President Barack Obama‘s administration announcement that they will stop deporting and start granting work permits to young illegal immigrants, Republicans are urging Republican nominee Mitt Romney to soften his position on illegal immigration. Again.Lionel Sosa, a former top adviser to Ronald Reagan on Hispanic outreach, told Business Insider Friday that Romney will need to “moderate his immigration position to win the election.”
“He is going to have to moderate his position,” Sosa said in a phone interview early Friday afternoon. “And he’s going to have to do it sooner rather than later. He had to moderate his position to win the [Republican] nomination. Now he needs to moderate it to win the election.”
Sosa said it was an “obvious political ploy” by President Barack Obama to encourage the Latino voting bloc to vote for him in the same droves as 2008. But he noted that it was a “brilliant political ploy.”
In a 2007 “Meet the Press” interview, Romney said that he supported permanent residency or citizenship for the illegal immigrants currently in the U.S., as long as there wasn’t a “special pathway” to citizenship — but he hardened into an immigration hawk during the Republican primaries. He especially hammered home the points in Republican debates, like one in November:
“But to say that we’re going to say to the people who have come here illegally that now you’re all going to get to stay or some large number are going to get to stay and become permanent residents of the United States, that will only encourage more people to do the same thing,” Romney said.
“People respond to incentives. And if you can become a permanent resident of the United States by coming here illegally, you’ll do so. What I want to do is bring people into this country legally, particularly those that have education and skill that allows us to compete globally.”
But some Republicans, including former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, have recently urged Romney to reconsider that position.
“I would just have a different policy than what he has espoused,” Barbour told reporters during a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, according to USA Today. Bush said this week that he worried Romney had backed himself “into a box” on immigration during the primary.
A recent poll by NBC and Telemundo found Obama with a 34-point lead among Hispanic voters. It didn’t poll on the DREAM Act or the candidates’ immigration policies.
A Latino Decisions poll released last Friday found that 87 per cent of Latino voters support Sen. Dick Durbin’s version of the DREAM Act, which contains many of the same provisions as Obama’s new policy directive.
Photo: Latino Decisions
Only 49 per cent supported an alternative version that has been floated around by Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican often mentioned as a running mate for Romney. That version provides young undocumented immigrant temporary status if they attend college or serve in the military, but does not place them on a path to citizenship
Eventually, Sosa said, he expects Romney to soften his position and align with Rubio.
“As the election goes on, I think we’ll see a softening in his position and a massive outreach by Romney to Latinos,” Sosa said. “It’s essential — not just for his election, but for the future of the Republican Party.”
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