10 May 2012

Romney’s campaign takes US immigration stutter

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign faltered today after campaign officials seemed confused over the former governor's position on US immigration.

US immigration

Mitt Romney's campaign has faltered over Republican officials' contradicting remarks regarding his position on US immigration.

As Mr Romney's campaign gathered more momentum by picking up more delegates in three states yet stumbled when asked what the former Massachusetts governor's position on US immigration would be.

The Republican Party's top Hispanic outreach director, Bettina Inclan, confirmed that Mr Romney's presidential campaign will be focussed on the number one issue in the US at the moment, the economy. However, when asked what Mr Romney's position on immigration was, she replied Mr Romney "is still deciding what his position on immigration is".

Ms Inclan's Republican colleague Kirsten Kukowski quickly stepped in and interrupted Ms Inclan to reaffirm that Mr Romney's position on immigration, was in fact, clearly stated on his campaign website.

'The first act of an immigrant should not be an illegal one,' says Mr Romney's web page. Mr Romney 'believes there should be no special path to citizenship. Everyone who wants to come to the United States should have to follow the same channels as everyone else.'

'Everyone should be welcome to come to the United States but they need to do it correctly, as have countless generations of Americans before us.'

Ms Inclan later tweeted that she had 'misspoken' and posted a link to Mr Romney's campaign site.

The confusion has once again raised doubts as to Mr Romney's ability to appeal to Hispanic voters, who are widely regarded as holding the crucial vote in November's election when Mr Romney, who is still to officially secure the Republican nomination, will challenge President Obama for the White House.

President Obama secured 67% of the Hispanic vote in his 2008 election win, considerably more than the record Republican share when George W Bush won re-election in 2004. However, President Obama's failure to secure the widespread immigration reform he promised in his first term combined with his administration's record levels of deportations have led some to speculate his position among Hispanic communities might not be so assured.

Mr Romney advocated a tough line on immigration throughout the Republican primary but has attempted to soften his tone as his lead has looked more and more secure. A prominent Hispanic community leader said yesterday that Mr Romney could obtain significant support from Hispanic voters if he embraced immigration reform.

While President Obama's DREAM Act, which would provide a route to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants, stalls in both houses of Congress, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, widely considered a favourite for Mr Romney's running mate, has proposed his own alternative to the DREAM Act which would grant children of illegal immigrants a non-immigrant US visa.

Mr Romney has previously said he would veto the DREAM Act if he is elected president but has been encouraged to support Senator Rubio's alternative to demonstrate his willingness to shift his position on immigration.

Democrats have repeatedly criticised the former governor's position as overly harsh and this latest mix up has provided another opportunity for the Democratic Party to promote themselves as the logical choice for Hispanic voters.

"[Mr Romney's] position may be inconvenient, but it has been clear," said Gabriele Domenzain, a spokesperson for President Obama's re-election campaign.

"Mitt Romney has decided to be the most extreme presidential candidate on immigration; Hispanics and all Americans have heard it loud and clear."

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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