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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

How Romney Could Win Back Latinos

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That purports to be the secret to be revealed in this fairly unhelpful analysis by Matthew Jaffe at

The essence of the story is that despite polls showing Romney trailing by 50+% amongst Hispanic voters, that they really are not so concerned about immigration and that Romney should appeal to them on economic issues and accuse the President of failing to deliver on the promise of immigration reform. Wow, that's an amazingly helpful suggestion. But, um, isn't that what the Romney campaign has been doing for quite some time already? And a lot of good it seems to be doing.

Jaffe also suggests that picking a Marco Rubio for a vice presidential candidate might help. Gee, never heard that suggestion before except for just about every news report in the last several weeks. And, unfortunately for Romney, polling shows that not only does Rubio make little difference in helping to narrow the gap with Hispanic voters, the pick wouldn't even deliver Florida.

Another dubious suggestion in the story is that somehow Latino voters will not care about immigration because of the departure of many Mexicans.

However, immigration may ultimately be less of an issue than initially expected. For the first time in decades the number of Mexican immigrants coming to this country has dropped, from nearly 7 million in 2007 to around 6.1 million today, a Pew Hispanic Center study of government data found.

So? Where's the logical connection there? Latino voters suddenly don't care about the anti-immigrant/anti-brown people rhetoric of the right? Latino voters are not just concerned about immigration because a lot of them have family members or friends affected (though they do). They care because the positions of Romney and his fellow party members are viewed by many, many Latino voters as using immigration policy as code to appeal to white voters who fear losing majority status.

Jaffe makes an even stranger argument that somehow Arizona's SB1070 is a non-factor.

In addition, the anticipated nationwide backlash against Arizona's controversial new immigration law has yet to materialize. When the Supreme Court took up the case last Wednesday, the conservative justices on the court tried to poke holes in the Obama administration's argument that Arizona could not pursue "its own policy" of immigration control because "the Constitution vests exclusive authority over immigration matters with the national government." Justice Antonin Scalia responded that "all that means is that the government can set forth the rules concerning who belongs in this country, but if, in fact, somebody who does not belong in this country is in Arizona , Arizona has no power?"

Afterward, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, the Republican who enacted the law, said, "I feel very confident as I walked out of there that we will get a favorable ruling in late June."

If you think Mitt Romney is not dreading  Supreme Court decision this June ruling in favor of Arizona, I have some swampland in Florida I'd be happy to sell to you. Hispanic voters are NOT going to be pleased if the law is upheld and they are likely to take it out against the guy who praised that law as a model for the country. Who picks Supreme Court Justices may not matter for the average voter, but it's going to be an easy message for Obama to deliver to Latinos if that case goes as many are predicting.

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  1. gg's Avatar
    It is no secret most Hispanics are ideologically more closer to Republicans but tend to vote Democrat something also seen among the East Indian community. Also some polling also suggest that majority of legal Hispanic voters want strong immigration enforcement. So there is clearly a segment of Hispanic voters that Republicans can go after aggressively.

    If yesterdays May day rallies are any indication, I believe Hispanics likely to stay home during elections. Right now they seem to be more disenchanted and fuming over feeling used in 2008.

    However Democrats have the advantage as they are in power and can still take actions to attract the Hispanic voters.
  2. Another Voice's Avatar
    LOL!! Ronmey is paying for some bad advise and he i surrounding himself with too many Miami-Cubans. Since they do not have a dog in the Immigration fight they guess it out of touch with the issue!!! While yes Hispanics off course care about the economy the most like anyone else in the US. That does not mean that they are ready to go sleep with the devil. But hey I hope Romney listens to the people that tell him what he wants to hear and not the Bill Maher says the Repuks they love living in the bubble!!!
  3. Another Voice's Avatar
    "It is no secret most Hispanics are ideologically more closer to Republicans but tend to vote Democrat something also seen among the East Indian community."

    I do not agree however even if we assume that is true most Hispanics have a friend, relative or know someone that is caught in the Immigration mess that we have today and when they get attacked by the republicans. Hispanics wioll always side with Hispanics and not the republicans, you offcourse have to discount the Miami-Cubans.
  4. gg's Avatar
    Romney doesn't need majority Hispanic's to vote for him. He knows which segment of Hispanic voters will support him. He also knows which segment of Hispanic voters he has to convince to sit at home and not vote Democrat. Lets not forget that Democrats have been loosing consistently white male voters, which is slowing swinging to Republicans. Also Hispanics are pretty religious and the church can have an impact on their voting patterns. The main problem for Democrats is they did not deliver on their promise of CIR in the first year instead doubled up on enforcement tearing apart tens of thousands of families. This damage is done which is very hard to repair. The second term promise which included a "but" is like rubbing more salt on their wounds. They seem completely disillusioned and pissed off for being taken for granted. So now, its no more credit only cash please. Pass immigration reform or equivalent and get our votes. Thats what I am learning from talking to different people. Moreover there are reports that Democrats are pressuring Immigrants groups not to support Rubio's Dream Act proposal which is not going very well with Dreamers and their families.

  5. Another Voice's Avatar
    You got a couple of good points there Romney technically only has to get 40% of the Hispanic vote to have a shot. You can do that by encouraging people to stay home and win some voters. Again the first option has a chance the second does not. Obama has to make clear that unless he get a supportive congress not only Immigration but anything else won't matter if we get divided government. On the religious front most religious groups other than probably southern baptist churches are pro Immigration which puts them at odds with Romney or the repuks. I agree with you Obama should stay away from promising CIR but rather stick to a general message of re-electing him and voting for all the democrats out there to help him. Hispanics are sick of empty promises but they are sicker of the status quo on if you can motivate them that way you may have a shot, very tough. I do not think the Obama folks are trying that hard because they probably only care about re-electing him not really coming true with the promise of CIR.
  6. Jack's Avatar
    "the guy who praised that law as a model for the country"

    Actually, it was a different law which Romney referred to as "a model":

    "I think you see a model here in Arizona. They passed a law here that says that people who come here and try to find work, that the employer is required to look them up on E-Verify. This E-Verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who's here legally and who's not here legally. And as a result of E-Verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent."

    1070 has nothing to do with E-Verify. That 2007 E-Verify requirement is called the Legal Arizona Workers Act and was upheld by the Supreme Court last year in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting. For some reason, the president and anti-enforcement advocates keep saying that Romney called 1070 "a model" even though it is clear in the transcript he is not referring to 1070. I even saw Paul Begala insist Romney said it even after they played the clip and the host confirmed their researchers can find no instance of Romney ever calling 1070 a model!
  7. gg's Avatar
    @Jack, you are right. Romney also said during the debate that he would be hiring illegal immigrants if he was not running for office. It was only because he was running for office he had to fire one of his employees who happened to be illegal. If Romney pivots soon Democrats will be under tremendous pressure to implement techniques described in the "Administrative alternatives to CIR" memo leaked to media in July 2010, to provide relief to the undocumented.
  8. Another Voice's Avatar
    LOL!!! Jack you are either very inocent or do not watch the game of politics very carefuly. While you maybe right on Romney's assertion regarding the AZ law, the attack adds will soley focus on the fact that he called the "whole law" a model. That is already playing in Hispanic media.....second the fact that Romney has people like Kobach, Pierce, Brewer and Arpio on his side will be enough to seal his faith with Hispanics in AZ and the rest of the country....there is no getting away from that!!!!
  9. Nurse Waiting's Avatar
    "Romney also said during the debate that he would be hiring illegal immigrants if he was not running for office. It was only because he was running for office he had to fire one of his employees who happened to be illegal. "

    He didn't say that. That is called twisting of words.

    He said "I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals. It turns out that once question, they hired someone who had falsified their documents, had documents, and therefore we fired them."
  10. Nurse Waiting's Avatar
    I am very surprised that Greg is somehow giving Obama (by blaming lack of super majority on blue dog democrats) a free pass and placing blame on right wing nuts. If Obama cannot get one republican to support his agenda then there is definitely something wrong with agenda. Truth is Obama never pursued anything immigration. Even in his initial days his first comments were anti-nurse immigration. For people who think he is pro-immigration, do not want to look at this actions (record deportations, impossible visa approvals/stampings, high fees etc).
  11. Jack's Avatar
    the attack adds will soley focus on the fact that he called the "whole law" a model. -- AV

    When did he call the "whole law" "a model"? Please provide a link to that.
  12. gg's Avatar
    @Nurse Waiting

    " He didn't say that. That is called twisting of words. "

    What is the difference between a glass that is half full and one that is half empty ?

    "I am very surprised that Greg is somehow giving Obama (by blaming lack of super majority on blue dog democrats) a free pass and placing blame ..."

    You have your opinion and Greg has his so whats the problem ?
  13. gg's Avatar
    @Nurse - Here is the entire investigative report published by in 2006

    Illegal immigrants toiled for governor Romney

    SUCHITEPEQUEZ, Guatemala -- Outside his aqua-colored concrete house here, Rene Alvarez Rosales paused under an almond tree to answer questions about a subject with which he has surprising familiarity: Governor Mitt Romney's Belmont lawn.

    For about eight years, Rosales said, he worked on and off landscaping the grounds at Romney's home, occasionally getting a "buenos dias" from Romney or a drink of water from his wife, Ann.

    "She is very nice," said Rosales, 49.

    About 6 miles away in Copado, a 37-year-old man who recently returned to Guatemala from the United States told a similar story, describing long days tending Romney's 2 1/2-acre grounds.

    "They wanted that house to look really nice," said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous. "It took a long time."

    As Governor Mitt Romney explores a presidential bid, he has grown outspoken in his criticism of illegal immigration. But, for a decade, the governor has used a landscaping company that relies heavily on workers like these, illegal Guatemalan immigrants, to maintain the grounds surrounding his pink Colonial house on Marsh Street in Belmont.

    The Globe recently interviewed four current and former employees of Community Lawn Service with a Heart, the tiny Chelsea-based company that provides upkeep of Romney's property. All but one said they were in the United States illegally.

    The employees told the Globe that company owner Ricardo Saenz never asked them to provide documents showing their immigration status and knew they were illegal immigrants.

    "He never asked for papers," said Rosales, who said he had paid smugglers about $5,000 to take him across the US-Mexican border and settled in Chelsea.

    The workers said they were paid in cash at $9 to $10 an hour and sometimes worked 11-hour days.

    Romney never inquired about their status, they said.

    In addition to maintaining the governor's property, they also tended to the lawn at the house owned by Romney's son, Taggart, less than a mile away on the same winding street.

    Asked by a reporter yesterday about his use of Community Lawn Service with a Heart, Romney, who was hosting the Republican Governors Association conference in Miami, said, "Aw, geez," and walked away.

    Several hours later, his spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, provided the Globe with a statement saying that the governor knows nothing about the immigration status of the landscaping workers, and that his dealings were with Saenz, who is a legal immigrant from Colombia.

    Fehrnstrom said that Romney would look into the matter further.

    "We'll see what happens from here on out," Fehrnstrom said. "If the Globe has information on people that are in the country illegally, obviously that would have to be verified. . . . We've already taken the first step in that direction by calling Mr. Saenz."

    The situation underscores the extent to which illegal immigrants permeate the US economy. Even as Romney travels the country, vowing to curb the flood of low-skilled illegal immigrants into the United States, some of those workers maintain his own yard, cutting grass, pruning shrubs, and mulching trees.

    Saenz said he met Romney through the Mormon Church and said Romney has used his company's services for a decade. Saenz said Romney never asked him if his workers are legal immigrants.

    "He doesn't have to ask," Saenz said. "I'm a company."

    Saenz asserted that all the workers he used were in the United States legally. Told by reporters that his employees said they were in this country illegally, Saenz responded: "What you've heard is not my problem."

    Saenz said he had never requested any proof from his employees to show they are here legally.

    "I don't need to tell them to show me documents," he said. "I know who they are, and they are legal."

    Federal law calls for employers to examine the documents, such as green cards or Social Security cards, that establish an employee's identity and eligibility to work in the United States.

    The Globe received a tip in July alleging that Romney was using illegal immigrants to landscape his property. Reporters then observed the lawn service workers outside Romney's house more than a dozen times, sometimes as frequently as twice a week.

    Reporters tracked down four current and former employees of the company at their homes in Chelsea and in Guatemala. All had landscaped Romney's property while working for Community Lawn Service with a Heart, and their tenure ranged from one worker who had joined the company just a month ago to another who had worked there 10 years.

    The workers said they found the jobs at the landscaping company through other Guatemalan immigrants after arriving in Chelsea.

    Of the four interviewed, only one said he was in the United States legally, showing a reporter his Social Security card and a Massachusetts driver's license, which the reporter checked against public databases to verify its authenticity. The other workers acknowledged they had no genuine documents, though some said they purchased fake documents, and described harrowing trips to the United States, eluding authorities and paying thousands for their passage. The interviews were conducted in Spanish.

    The undocumented workers appear to be a significant presence at the tiny company. Reporters who observed the company in recent months never saw more than three people working at any time. Typically two men were working on any given day.

    Community Lawn Service also provides landscaping for a Massachusetts Port Authority property in Revere and public school grounds in Chelsea. The Globe reported in June that companies using undocumented workers had received state contracts, triggering intense debate on Beacon Hill. Romney and GOP lawmakers have supported an effort to prohibit the practice.

    The workers who had landscaped Romney's property seemed unaware of the governor's support for stricter controls on illegal immigration. Several described casual encounters with Romney over the years and said he had never expressed any curiosity about their status.

    Rosales recalled Romney sometimes waving as they tended to the grounds, which include a tennis court and swimming pool. Romney occasionally called out, "buenos dias," drawing good-natured laughter from the workers. Ann Romney was friendly, Rosales said, and he said she brought them water on one particularly hot day.

    Romney has been critical of illegal immigration as he touts himself to Republican primary voters as a conservative alternative to Senator John McCain, who has teamed up with Senator Edward M. Kennedy to push for a middle ground approach on the issue.

    Romney supports construction of a new 700-mile fence along the country's border with Mexico and stationing National Guard troops at the border until it is finished.

    He also said that employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants should be penalized. After the Globe's story in June about contractors on public projects using illegal immigrants, the governor announced he would seek an agreement with federal immigration authorities to allow Massachusetts State Police to arrest illegal immigrants for being in this country illegally.

    In September, on Fox TV's "The O'Reilly Factor," Romney said the border must be secured and restated his support for the fence along the Mexican border, prompting host Bill O'Reilly to dub it "the Mitt Romney Memorial wall."

    The experience of the workers on Romney's property seems far removed from the political rhetoric.

    The worker in Copado said a state trooper stationed in Romney's driveway once inquired about his immigration status, about six months ago. Saenz, the company owner, who was at the property at the time, told the trooper that the worker was in the country legally, but had forgotten his papers, the worker told the Globe. The trooper never inquired again, said the worker, who repeatedly returned to the governor's property but avoided the trooper. Saenz told reporters he did not recall the incident.

    Both the Copado resident and Rosales said they took the landscaping jobs to earn money for their families back home. After making it to the US-Mexican border, they crossed the Arizona desert on foot. When they finally arrived in Chelsea, where friends and family lived, they did odd jobs and eventually found work at Community Lawn Service with a Heart.

    They said they were grateful for the work. About 80 percent of Guatemalans live in poverty, according to the US State Department. The workers said they made far more at Community Lawn Service than they could in their Central American homeland.

    "It was a good job," said the worker in Copado, not far from a stream where local women wash their clothes. "I didn't make a lot, but I earned $16,000 working for that company." He said he returned to Guatemala after four years because he missed his wife and daughter and has used his earnings to buy a pickup truck and land on which to build a small house.

    Another of the undocumented workers, who has been living in Chelsea for two years and joined the landscaping firm a month ago, is finding life here hard.

    "The truth is, it's very difficult," the 46-year-old worker said. "One lives day to day."

    The one legal Guatemalan immigrant interviewed by the Globe, who has done work at the Romney property numerous times, has been a constant presence at the landscaping company. But he said Saenz regularly hired illegal workers to work alongside him. He said exchanges with the governor on the property are rare.

    "The one who talks to us is the wife," said the legal immigrant. "She asks how we are."
  14. George Chell's Avatar

    Dont know whether Jack sympathizes with this guy, but I am sure Arpaio, Russell Pearce and Jan Brewer are his mentors and still sympathize with his cause. Romney may not be sympathetic to his cause, but definitely wants the vote of this neo-nazi's sympathizers.
  15. Another Voice's Avatar
    "the attack adds will soley focus on the fact that he called the "whole law" a model. -- AV

    When did he call the "whole law" "a model"? Please provide a link to that."

    The Romney campaign has put an attack add depictig Obama saying that he "did not want to talk about the economy", but in reality that was Obama telling people that McCain did not want to talk abou the economy, attack adds easily take things out of context, the problem for Romney here is that he is already heavy devaluated with Hispanics he can't afford any more bad publicity.....but he will will get plenty!!! Tha's all I am saying Jack. Stick to "deport them all agenda" trying to say that Romney will win Hispanics will not be a winning issue for your team.
  16. gg's Avatar

    I think since Romney supports "self-deportation" and has also said publicly that Arizona is a "model" people were left to believe that he supports SB1070.

    According to the authors of the Senate Bill 1070 (Kobach and crew) the intention of the bill is "attrition through enforcement" as mentioned in Section 1. Basically to make the lives of the undocumented miserable so that they "self-deport".

    However Romney's definition of "self-deportation" is different. According to his plan every undocumented will be given a transition period during which they will be able to work and after that period is over they can decide to "stay" or "self-deport" because they don't have the necessary documentation.

    Looks like Romney is a sheep in wolf's clothing... ha ha

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