CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Immigrant rights groups called Thursday for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to stop airing a Spanish-language television ad that debuted Wednesday, calling its claims that he worked with Democrats on immigration reform as Massachusetts' governor and would do the same as president, misleading.
"Romney's ad is a fraud," Frank Sharry, executive director of pro-immigration reform group America's Voice, said in an email. "The only permanent solution we know Romney will advocate is 'self-deportation,' which is code for a purge of millions of hardworking Latino immigrant families."
Romney vetoed Massachusetts' version of the Dream Act, which would have given in-state tuition to some young undocumented immigrants, Sharry pointed out.
His current views on immigration are also out of line with those of many Democrats. He said he would veto the national Dream Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to work toward citizenship, and only allow them legal residence. He also opposes "amnesty" -- giving a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants already in the United States and usually a central tenet of comprehensive reform.
Romney has softened his tone on immigration since the Republican primary, when he advocated "self-deportation," or making life difficult for undocumented immigrants until they leave, as a solution to immigration problems. He said during the presidential debate Tuesday that his statement meant only that undocumented immigrants should have the choice to leave if they wished.
Many of Romney's Spanish-language ads point out -- correctly -- that Obama failed to enact comprehensive immigration reform as he promised during his 2008 campaign, and that Romney would do better. Romney has said he would begin work on immigration reform before Inauguration Day.
Erika Andiola, an undocumented immigrant and political director of Dream Action Coalition, said Latino voters won't be convinced by Romney's recent statements.
"After running on an anti-immigrant platform all year, he is now trying to mislead the Latino community without details on a real solutions," she said in an email. "Self-deportation, e-verify, SB-1070, and a military pathway only to residency are not the solutions Dreamers and the Latino community are looking for."
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