A missed opportunity

The annual meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) was an excellent opportunity for former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, to set the record straight and clearly present his position on immigration to the Latino audience.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be another missed opportunity. It is true that the tone of the candidate’s message was softer than the hard line he took against the undocumented during the Republican primaries. And, he did declare his support of the idea of the DREAM Act for those who join the Armed Forces and he made note that he would keep his promises, a veiled reference to President Barack Obama.

The most distressing part of Romney’s speech, however, is that the Republican’s primary strategy to get the Latino vote when it comes to immigration is to continue to try and disqualify President Obama for not making immigration reform his priority.

Those who hear these words might think that the Republicans have been, and are, prepared to support reform instead of just the opposite, which is that they have opposed every measure presented that hasn’t been sufficiently punitive towards the undocumented. Ironically, with the White House announcing a new policy on deportations last week, the Republicans are now accusing the President of being too slow to take action.

But don’t be confused. This latest attack doesn’t mean that Romney supports the new immigration policy, which protects those under 30 who were brought here illegally as children from being deported. In fact, we don’t even know if he would eliminate the provision immediately if elected president. No one knows. The ambiguity and doubts this creates work against Romney even though he assures everyone listening that he will find a permanent solution as opposed to Obama’s stop-gap measures.

Many times a candidate’s positions are distorted by the media and by rivals. But this time, it is the candidate himself who missed a wonderful opportunity to talk directly to a sector of the electorate extremely concerned with the human side of immigration.