The DREAM Act: Why would Mitt Romney veto it?

National polls show that 91% of Hispanics support the DREAM Act, making Governor Romney's love of the veto pen his Achilles heel. Photo: Romney address Hispanic Leadership Network Photo: AP

EASTON, Md., January 29, 2012 — Mitt Romney, supposedly the Republican candidate with the softest heart, stares sternly into the TV cameras, unflinching, gripping the podium, and says callously that as president he would veto the DREAM Act if it came across his desk, defining it as basically “a handout.”

Wrong again, Governor. The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) is a pathway for children brought here by their parents who came to America as undocumented immigrants. Since they themselves did not slip across any border illegally or overstay a visa, the DREAM Act would allow those young immigrants to work towards citizenship by:

  • graduating from high school;
  • then graduating from a two year college;
  • or working towards a degree in a four year college;
  • or serving in our military;
  • as well as being a productive member of society with no criminal record;
  • then after six years, applying for permanent resident status.
  • and after that, applying for citizenship. 

Certainly not a handout.

Back in July, I wrote two columns on the DREAM Act, debunking the myths and misinformation out there about this humanitarian bill that the Republicans in Congress have prevented from getting to President Obama’s desk. Too bad Mitt never found the time to read one of them. But then he has been too busy pandering to what is euphemistically called “the low information voters.” Translation: “One who votes based on information gleaned from other low information voters, rumors, viral emails, and FOX News.” Urban Dictionary

And then came Florida.

This is a state “where 13 percent of registered voters are Hispanic, where the nation’s largest Spanish-language TV networks are based and where the nation’s third-largest number of illegal immigrants live,” according to ABC News.

Listening to Romney Photo: AP

Now Romney’s words have come back to haunt him, as young Latinos speak up, challenging his way or no way on the DREAM Act. Obviously they are having an effect. During last Thursday’s debate, Romney “softened” his rhetoric.  Not only is he not for deporting “11 million grandmothers,” as he lambasted Newt Gingrich, he has decided that the DREAM Act could perhaps have an exception that he as President Romney could live with: a young person signing up for one of the military services.

So he has no trouble exempting an undocumented young person as long as he or she is willing to risk getting wounded, maimed, or killed while fighting for a country that views children brought here illegally as not worthy of citizenship.

The young person who wants to go to college and follow the stringent rules to citizenship? Sorry, you’re out of luck even though you want to become a productive, tax paying citizen, who gives back to your adopted country. Your sacrifice is not great enough. And this from a man who did not serve in the military because of his draft deferment as a Mormon minister of religion (missionary) for two and half years in France and then received another three year deferment for his academic studies. Doesn’t quite seem fair, does it?

Even with Mitt mitigating his position on the DREAM Act, Republican leaders are still worried about the future of his campaign as he heads West into states with large Hispanic populations. His veto promise has Republicans has Republicans up at night, fretting that his anti-DREAM Act stance will alienate the growing number of Latino voters in Western swing states who appear to now be on the fence even after supporting Obama in 2008.  So Romney’s ploy to ingratiate himself with hard line Republican primary voters such as those in South Carolina at the expense of Hispanics may backfire this fall, especially since the Pew Research Center found that 91% of the country’s Hispanics support the DREAM Act. 

Already there is a backlash in Florida. The DREAM Act activists are a strong presence there, demanding that their Republican elected officials challenge the harsh words of the four candidates. Even Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has felt the heat, which is probably one of the reasons he stepped forward and ask Newt Gingrich to take down his misleading ad against Romney.

Florida protesters against Romney Photo: AP

Latino Politics reports that Rubio, a Cuban-American, said this past Friday at the Hispanic Leadership Network conference in Miami, “For those of us who come from the conservative movement, we must admit that there are those among us who have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable, inexcusable. We must admit, myself included, that sometimes we’ve been too slow in condemning that rhetoric.”

But will such temperate words mollify the Hispanic voters who find that all four candidates are tougher than President Obama on illegal immigration? And can Mitt Romney regain his balance without flip-flopping once again. Allowing for the exception for military service is a flip. Now will he flop and completely reverse his position?

Hispanic voters make up 9% of all voters in the U.S., which may not seem significant, but their concentration in key states such as New Mexico, Colorado, or Nevada can make or break a squeaker of a race. Right now there are 24 states where Hispanics have the capacity to influence electoral outcomes, especially in tight races at every level. 

Republicans remember only too well that in 2008, 67 percent of Latinos voted for President Obama, and in the 2010 midterm elections 60% of them cast ballots for Democratic members of Congress, according to national exit polls.

This is why Mitt Romney’s stance against the DREAM Act, threatening to wield the mighty veto pen, is making Republican leaders nervous. If Romney continues down this path, he will soon be known as Mitt the Merciless.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib in the Communities at the Washington Times. She can also be heard on the Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.

Also Read:

DREAM Act sparks debate, misinformation, and fear

A Fourth of July wish: Make the DREAM Act a reality


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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