Race + Politics: Mitt Romney’s VP Pick Doesn’t Like ‘Anchor Babies’

By Arturo R. García

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s announcement that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan would join him on the Republican party ticket this election season, let’s revisit this piece by Sara Inés Calderón at NewsTaco last year about a telling encounter Ryan had (or engineered) at a town hall in his district.

In the clip, a resident and retired U.S. Marine steers the conversation toward immigration, saying he’s “afraid of being called racist” before complaining about spending part of the year in New Mexico, where the post office is “loaded with people who don’t speak English and have Mexican plates on their cars–and they’re fancy cars–mostly because they have anchor babies.”

So, apparently Mexican-American kids are like Oprah–every parent gets a car!

Next, he decries said the fact that each of these Midas kids has benefits “’til it’s eighteen.” Oh, and the fact that they’re going to a new school in the district is a problem, too. But somehow, even though these kids are American citizens, or maybe dual citizens because they “all live in Mexico,” it’s bad that they’re getting an education at a school in the district.

Gee, why would anybody believe this guy was a racist? You know, besides the fact this line of thought has been debunked.

Ryan then tries to expound the virtures of “catch and release” tactics before a woman asks, “Are you talking about people or fish?” and starts to rebut the other man’s argument. It’s at this point that Ryan asks for civility before the conversation resumes.

“Don’t let him speak in a racist, sexist manner,” the woman tells Ryan. “You can stop him.” Of course, Ryan defends the guy’s “right to be heard” before saying, “Anchor babies cost money,” which Calderón correctly notes as being nonsensical:

Are we supposed to gather that when the government spends money on Latinos (who happen to be U.S. citizens) it’s bad, but when they spend money on non-Latino kids it’s not a “problem”? That’s a question I’d like to have answered.

She’s not alone; as this clip proves, there’s residents in Ryan’s own district with questions of their own. Too bad he has them arrested every time they speak up, after paying $15 to attend a meeting with their own congressional representative.

Ryan’s claim to fame is his much-lauded budget plan, one which, as Adriana Maestas at Politic365 pointed out in March, does particular damage to the Black and Latino communities by gutting social-service programs like Pell Grants, Medicare/Medicaid and the food stamp program. He has also supported the construction of a wall along the border between Mexico and the U.S. Based on congressional records, Ryan is the most far-right nominee for the vice presidency in history. Which, if nothing else, should further endear him to a voting base that booed at just the mention that their presidential nominee’s dad was born in Mexico.

  • Anonymous

    Without a decent percentage of the Latino vote (some say in the mid-30′s
    http://www.minnpost.com/christian-science-monitor/2012/08/has-mitt-romney-given-latino-vote ) Romney/Ryan won’t/can’t win. Right now he is in the low 20′s with Latinos.

    Cubans, for historical reasons the traditionally the more GOP-friendly of the bunch, are only around 4% of US Latinos. Even if they got every single Cuban vote, Romney and Ryan are going to have to win over some of the Mexican-Americans that are legal citizens, some residents of US territory for longer than the Daughters of the Revolution! Anglo politicians too often conveniently forget that fact in their rush to cater to their anti-brown people base. Every time the words “anchor baby” or “illegal” or any of the other code words for MEXICAN are used, they cement their loss. Every person of Mexican descent knows that they are being spoken of disparagingly, and even the wealthy ones who own businesses are turned off by the racism.

    Romney is no George Bush–even he knew as a Texan that he needed the Latino vote. And, in fact it was the Latino vote that helped put him in power. “Self-deportation” policies to the side, Ryan is as anti-Latino as Romney and helps him not one bit on that front. They will lose this election on the basis of this and their anti-woman policies.

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  • http://twitter.com/StickyGeranium Sticky Geranium

    To clarify, I don’t think Ryan was particularly well-versed on it, but I think he was criticizing the “catch and release,” policy, not lauding it. Of course his criticism isn’t based on its appalling name, but because it was a not-tough-enough border enforcement method.
    We have since replaced that type of enforcement with mass trials for illegal entry. So we send people to federal prison before we deport them. As a result of that, illegal entry and illegal re-entry constitute more than half of all federal criminal prosecutions nation-wide. It’s astonishing and horrific. For anyone who wants to learn more about it, here’s a decent article: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2010-10-21/news/grinding-justice-operation-streamline-costs-millions-tramples-the-constitution-treats-migrants-like-cattle-and-doesn-t-work/.