WASHINGTON -- Hispanic lawmakers have a response to the Republican National Committee official who said Tuesday that presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is "still deciding what his position is" on immigration: He decided a long time ago.
"It's very, very clear," Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told The Huffington Post. "Romney has not in any way advanced any affirmative immigration policy other than to criticize this president and support Arizona SB 1070-type laws. And that he would veto the DREAM Act. That's all we know about his position right now."
Gonzalez was pushing back on claims by RNC Hispanic outreach coordinator Bettina Inclan that Romney hasn't figured out his immigration policy yet and that the RNC isn't ready to talk about it with Latino voters:
I think that as a candidate, to my understanding, that he's still deciding what his position on immigration is, so I can't talk about what his proposal is going to be because I don't know what Romney exactly -- he's talked about different issues, and what we saw in the Republican primary is that there's a diverse opinion on how to deal with immigration. I can't talk about something that I don't know what his position is.
Inclan later tweeted that she misspoke. RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski clarified that message coordination between the RNC and the Romney campaign is still in its early stages.
But members of the Hispanic Caucus aren't about to let Romney off the hook.
"Here's a suggestion for anyone who wants to run for the highest office in the land: Come up with an immigration policy before you compete in 30 or 40 primaries," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who chairs the caucus' Immigration Task Force.
"Of course, the truth is that Mitt Romney has an immigration policy. He said that laws like those passed in Arizona were models for the country and he promised to veto the DREAM Act," Gutierrez said. "Now, as he is hitting the erase button on everything outrageous he said during the primaries, he cannot even say what his basic approach to immigration will be? That isn't just sad, it is disappointing to the millions of Americans whose lives are in limbo because our immigration issues are unresolved and loved ones are deported, kept out or locked up for years."
Gonzalez said that one need look no further than Romney's tenure as Massachusetts governor and his statements in the 2008 and 2012 presidential primaries to understand his position on immigration.
As governor, he vetoed DREAM Act legislation that would have given in-state tuition to U.S.-born students of undocumented parents, according to Gonzalez, and Romney has said he would veto similar legislation as president. He also called Arizona "a model" for the country on immigration -- the same state that passed legislation, SB 1070, that makes it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant and requires law enforcement to question people when there is "reasonable suspicion" that a person may be in the country illegally.
Romney has also said he supports a self-deportation policy, which would make conditions difficult for undocumented immigrants to the point that they would decide to leave.
"I just don't know where he's going to go with that," Gonzalez said. "I think he is where he is."