De Leon: President Romney’s ‘Día Uno’ Campaign Won’t Earn Him Latino Votes

Republican contender Mitt Romney

Republican contender Mitt Romney. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr)

Mitt Romney sealed the deal in Texas on Tuesday and is now the official Republican presidential candidate. The former Massachusetts governor has been actively reaching out to Latino voters who he managed to alienate during the primaries.

At the Latino Coalition’s annual economic summit in Washington, D.C., last week, Romney explained how he would improve schools and called education “the greatest civil rights issue of our era and our greatest challenge.”

The weekend prior, his team released its Spanish-language ad campaign entitled “Día Uno,” which focuses on what Romney would tackle his first day as President – the economy.  The ads are running in Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio.

The odd but unsurprising thing about both of these efforts is that Gov. Romney does not mention immigration whatsoever. He brazenly skirts the issue.

No doubt Latinos care about their children’s education and having jobs that provide for their families. But precisely because family and community are also very important to Latinos, immigration is an issue Romney cannot sweep under the rug.

The core of his immigration policy, attrition through enforcement, has prompted families to remove their children from school and parents to leave jobs out of fear. Moreover, his plan to reform immigration includes tighter enforcement and border control and eschews any path to legalization for unauthorized immigrants. Romney’s hardline immigration stance greatly impacts Latino voters, many of whom have undocumented family members and friends.

“Make no mistake, when I am President, you won’t wake up every day and wonder if the President is on your side,” he proclaimed at the Latino Coalition meeting. Mitt Romney is right. Latino and other voters with ties to immigrant communities know that should he win the presidency, he will not be on their side from day one. He has made that rather obvious.

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Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

AboutErwin de Leon
Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.