On Thursday, Mitt Romney gave a speech addressing the contentious issue of immigration to a conference of Latino leaders in Florida. Speaking to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Romney said in the speech he is "a great proponent of legal immigration."
The Republican presidential nominee has taken a hard stance on immigration in the past, vowing not grant "amnesty" for illegal immigrants, in an attempt to appeal to his party's conservative base. He is now feeling extra pressure to elaborate on his position on the issue in light of President Barack Obama's announcement last Friday that he will grant work permits and temporary two-year deportation stays for young undocumented immigrants that meet specific criteria. Estimates show that over 1.4 million could be effected by the executive order. Both politicians are attempting to court the Latino vote, a demographic that could tip election results in swing states.
"Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity as well," Romney said in the speech. "We can find common ground here, and we must. We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains a land of opportunity—both for those who were born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws, and want to come to our shores."
U.S. News's Brad Bannon explains why Obama's announcement puts Romney's campaign in an awkward position:
Last week, the president dropped a grenade into Romney's foxhole. A new national Bloomberg survey indicated that Americans support the president's immigration proposal by a two-to-one margin. Romney can dither, or he can come out and either piss off the large majority of Americans who support the immigration order or he can infuriate the Tea Party-types who are up in arms over the decision. The president's decisive action has boxed Romney into a corner where he is dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn't.
However, U.S. News's Ford O'Connell says Romney now has time to feel out the issue before definitively taking a stance. Although Americans support Obama's measure by a two-to-one margin, Latinos don't seem impressed, he says.
It may seem as if Romney is in a box. He can't cede the 15 electoral votes of Nevada and Colorado to President Obama, nor can he afford to endanger his growing white working-class support in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
But in reality, Romney now has an option he didn't have two weeks ago—he can take the wait-and-see approach.
What do you think? Does Mitt Romney need to solidify his position on immigration? Click here to take the poll and comment below.
- Peter Roff: Congress Should Press Obama and Eric Holder on 'Fast and Furious'
- Read the U.S. News Debate: Is Obama Right to Grant Young Illegal Immigrants Work Permits?
- Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy