By Arturo R. García
While the Mitt Romney campaign is regrouping in the wake of the infamous “47 percent” video circulated by Mother Jones earlier this week, it’s interesting to note that his infamous remarks came out not long after he tried yet again to connect with members of the Latino community, a demographic in which he–and the GOP along with him–still can’t win over.
Seventy-four percent. That’s the number of Latina voters currently favoring President Barack Obama, according to the political research firm Latino Decisions, compared to 21 percent for Romney. Overall, Democrats are more trusted than Republicans on issues concerning women, 78 percent to 13.
When Romney appeared before members of the Los Angeles Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Monday, then, he faced a major deficit among Hispanic women. His numbers with Latino males were only slightly better; Obama only leads Romney among male Hispanics, 61 percent to 32, respectively.
And while he promised to offer a more business-friendly climate should he become president, Romney undercut himself with his take on immigration reform: according to Univision, while he promised to offer green cards undocumented immigrants who were either college graduates or serving in the military, he suggested he would work to undo Obama’s new two-year Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, calling it “playing politics” with the young immigrants taking part in it.
This rhetoric, of course, omits the fact that it was Romney’s party that fought the DREAM Act–and even alternative suggestions from within their own ranks–tooth and nail. But it also reveals the kind of short-term thinking that the Democrats, if they show the political will, can use against them in the post-Obama future, regardless of how this year’s election plays out.
Because while offering current military members and graduates a clear path to immigration is laudable in and of itself, what the two-year program and the hope that it’s a precursor to a full DREAM Act show is a stated willingness to invest in the kids that will follow them..and their kids, and the kids after that.
That’s why the appearance of Benita Veliz at the Democrats’ convention in Charlotte is at least as savvy as it might have been heartfelt (we’re talking politics here, after all). It’s one thing to give a shout-out to immigration reform. But having an actual undocumented immigrant up there? That’s something people take notice of.
Just like they will notice Obama’s stopgap measure, which does not provide full citizenship, but is already opening some doors in immigration hubs: California governor Jerry Brown is expected to approve a bill making participants eligible for drivers licenses, a potential game-changer for nearly half a million eligible students in the state. And community-college officials in Maricopa County in Arizona(!) say they will allow the two-year permits as proof of state residency, enabling eligible students to pay in-state tuition.
These facts don’t assure a win for Obama this November, but they wouldn’t help Romney’s faltering case, either–even if he were Latino.