Romney’s New Tune Aggravates Anti-Immigrant Leaders

Jill Garvey • Jun 23, 2012

Mitt Romney released his strategy for bipartisan and long-term immigration reform at a speech to NALEO in Florida Thursday. Some of the positions he outlined sounded more moderate compared to his extreme rhetoric on immigration during the primaries.

Romney’s former anti-immigrant allies are increasingly agitated by the change-up.

Ira Mehlman of the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) said that Romney had turned “180 degrees” on his immigration positions. He went on to state, “I can’t imagine Romney’s [speech] would qualify as leadership on this issue”

FAIR President, Dan Stein, said Romney “offered a murky response to President Obama’s bombshell announcement last week implementing key aspects of the DREAM Act…”

Mark Krikorian from FAIR’s sister organization Center for Immigration Studies said Romney is “trying to walk a tightrope and doesn’t want to alienate Hispanic voters,” but that “there’s only so far he can move from his earlier immigration positions without completely forfeiting his limited credibility as a conservative.”

But what does “informal” Romney advisor and the legal mind behind racist laws such as SB 1070 think of Romney’s new tune? Kris Kobach has remained curiously quiet despite his continued employment with FAIR’s legal arm, Immigration Reform Law Institute. It unlikely that Kobach can continue to  remain in step with both Romney and the anti-immigrant movement, which has made him an influential (and wealthy) man.

Perhaps the controversies brewing in his home state of Kansas are keeping him too busy to comment. Kobach has faced increasing criticism from Kansas residents where he serves as Secretary of State. His latest gaffe was failing to draw the redistricting lines in a timely manner, resulting in a chaotic scramble for candidates to file in time. This resulted in a lawsuit that could potentially cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Putting an undue burden on taxpayers is something Kobach is very familiar with.

With the impending ruling from the Supreme Court this Monday on racial profiling law SB-1070, it will be interesting to see if Kobach will be in Washington hamming it up for the cameras or in Kansas doing his job.

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