A Romney Administration Perilous For Latinos
SB 1070, the promised DREAM Act veto, and “Self-Deportation”. These are immigration stances Mitt Romney’s has embraced in the primary and, needless to say, also three big problems that he has with Latino voters, problems which he cannot Etch-A-Sketch his way out of. But what makes Romney’s immigration stances perilous to Latinos is that they derive from a common source: Kris Kobach and others like him that may be potential candidates in a Romney administration to lead immigration policy and immigration enforcement.
Kris Kobach, author of notorious anti-immigrant laws like Arizona’ SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB56, has been a close adviser to the Romney camp. It’s very likely, Mitt Romney expected Kobach to be just an instrument that he could use to get him through the tough primaries. Romney seemed like he was going to dump his far-right position on immigration while using Senator Marco Rubio to pivot toward the center on immigration and recover the Latino vote. Back in April, Romney even went so far to distance himself by calling Kobach merely a “supporter.”
Romney, however, is realizing that it isn’t easy to publicly oust Kobach the way he would have liked. Kobach hasn’t gotten the memo, as he has said both that he is as close to Romney as ever, and that Marco Rubio’s alternative proposal to the DREAM Act falls short of his test (whatever that means). Given Romney’s proclivity to appease the far right, it is of solid probability that Romney would install Kris Kobach as Secretary of Homeland Security or Director of Immigration Custom Enforcement.
SB 1070, meanwhile, is still in the hands of the Supreme Court. But regardless of what the Court decides, Kris Kobach– with Mitt Romney’s validation– would certainly press forward making SB 1070 and “self-deportation” the standard of targeting Latinos across the country. This would entail measures that we’ve seen in Alabama which chased away the migrant workers, breaking the back of the local farming economy. Moreover, state laws granting in-state tuition to undocumented students would be once again challenged in court. In-state tuition laws have been a target of Kobach ever since he filed suit against Kansas.
We would unquestionably see an unfettered ICE agency and state police departments with wider license to target individuals with brown skin or spanish accents. The dragnet would apprehend not only undocumented immigrants but also Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban-Americans, and perhaps a beach-tanned caucasian who happened to speak spanish at the wrong place at the wrong time! A quick trip to the store could result with a deportation order or deportation itself. These are not hypothetical scenarios but real cases that have occurred even under the Obama administration. Such is the case of a U.S. Army soldier’s wife, who after being stopped for a minor traffic violation found herself threatened with deportation while her husband is stationed overseas or an American citizen who was mistakenly deported to Colombia.