Despite the fact that Latinos are now the largest minority group in America, GOP presidential candidates don’t appear to be focusing any effort in gaining their support.
Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Rick Perry all claim that they strongly oppose granting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants already residing in the United States, even though a majority of Americans support a “path to citizenship” and an increasing number support granting “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants (Pew Research Poll).
However, some of the candidates are being criticized for their more liberal immigration views. For example, Rick Perry signed a bill into law that granted in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrants which Mitt Romney equates with granting “amnesty.” Newt Gingrich, also, stated his support for establishing a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants who have been living in the United States for a long period of time and have established family ties which has prompted criticism from his competitors, especially Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. Both have since taken more conservative views with regard to immigration.
Furthermore, most of the candidate’s plans for immigration reform policy center around “securing the borders” before establishing any specific plans about the status of undocumented immigrants or enforcement policies. The vague nature of the candidates positions creates problems among all voters as to what their policies may be, if elected.
The Hispanic vote will be a vital constituency in the upcoming election. Due to president Obama’s heavy emphasis on border security and increased deportations, if Republicans took more moderate positions on immigration, they could garner the support of Latinos and independents, but not with the policies they are promoting now. In addition, some Republican presidential candidates support even more conservative stances on specific immigration policies. For example, Newt Gingrich supports a bill similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 and Michele Bachmann supports the deportation of all undocumented immigrants. Latinos and Independents will be two key constituencies that may be dissuaded by these very conservative immigration stances and will be the difference between the winning and losing parties in 2012.
It appears as if Governor Perry is both aiding illegal immigration while trying to stem the flow. He did support a state-wide provision of in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants, but he has also increased border enforcement and supported Arizona’s SB1070 (See link below). Governor Perry makes the claim that he can be both hard and soft. He is soft because he feels that if you do not support educating the youth that arrives in the country at no fault to themselves, then you do not have a heart. This is a highly controversial point. If allowing illegal immigrants free in-state tuition was a simple matter of heart, wouldn’t the whole country be on board? Wouldn’t it be an obvious human rights issue? For example, there exists people in the US that are a single parent family with three children. That single parent looses their job. Now there is no one to care for this family, no one to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table. This heartbreaking story contributed to the creation of unemployment benefits. It is a benefit offered by almost every country. Providing tuition to illegal immigrants is not the same “heart” issue. What about providing tuition, scholarships and financial aid for legal citizens? Isn’t that a matter of heart? Is it not possible to say that if you don’t provide for your own citizens and instead push money towards people of other nations who break laws you do not have a heart?
This is an interesting article about Rick Perry and his stance on immigration.
He has been criticized by fellow Republican candidates for implementing a law in 2001 that allowed undocumented immigrants to enroll in public Texas universities and receive in-state tuition if they met certain requirements (similar to those of the federal DREAM Act).
He continues to support his decision which may resonate well with Hispanic voters, however he says he won’t support a federal DREAM Act and claims that America must secure its borders before we tackle the immigration issue.
The Hispanic vote is going to be a key constituency in the upcoming election and I think it would be to Rick Perry’s benefit to embrace his 2001 law, for that would garner him support in the Hispanic community and among Independents.