THE BLOG

Why Doesn't Mitt Romney Like Immigrant Youth?

10/04/2011 05:55 pm ET | Updated Dec 04, 2011

Mitt Romney thinks he's found his winning issue against Rick Perry: For weeks now he's been attacking Perry for signing a bill that grants in-state tuition to undocumented students. Yeah, that's Romney path to the White House: picking on kids. Immigrant kids. Alabama's new law should give him plenty of fodder, since it aims directly at grade schoolers. Mitt can make first-graders the next target of his anti-immigrant wrath.

Clearly, Romney isn't letting go of this issue. On Sean Hannity's show, a clip of which Romney proudly posted on his campaign website, Romney spoke with enmity about this policy:

I fundamentally don't believe that we should give a break to illegal aliens to go to college in the United States.

Romney went on to boast that he vetoed a similar bill in Massachusetts, adding, "We will stop illegal immigration."

Got that? Mitt Romney's immigration plan is to crack down -- hard -- on immigrant youth. He's even got a new campaign ad to demonstrate how tough he is will be on these high school and college age "illegal aliens." Romney loves using that term, much the way Tom Tancredo does. Romney is not going to let them pay in-state tuition to go to college, despite the fact that many of them do pay taxes, as do their parents. He's not going to create any path to citizenship so they can put those educations to use once they graduate. Nope. Mitt's tough on immigrant youth.

Romney should know better. He knows many of these immigrant youth were brought to this country as children. Supporting the DREAM Act, a bill that allows kids who came in diapers and grew up as Americans to attend college or serve in the military, should be a no brainer. But Mitt carefully avoids using the term "DREAM Act." Deep down, he must realize that outside of the GOP's hard-core base, it is widely popular and that most Americans understand its logic. But for now, Mitt wants to be tough on the kids. Someone needs to ask Mitt if he plans to go to Texas to round up undocumented college students so he can deport them. That would seem to be the next step, given his rhetoric.

Romney is also heading down a well-worn, losing path. Meg Whitman used a similar strategy to win the GOP primary for California Governor in 2010. She never recovered and lost badly in the general election due to the power of the Latino vote. Romney's strategy is causing concern among some Republicans who understand the Latino vote:

[T]he tactic is not without risk, and some strategists -- and even some Romney supporters -- are beginning to worry that he could damage himself as a general election candidate with the fastest-growing population of voters who are up for grabs: Hispanics.

"Mitt Romney has definitely adopted [a hostile] tone, and needlessly," said Ana Navarro, the national Hispanic chairperson of Jon Huntsman's campaign who served the same role on John McCain's 2008 campaign.

Yep. Attacking Latino kids is a risky, needlessly hostile political strategy, too.

It wasn't supposed to be this way in 2012. Last year, the Boston Phoenix reported that, this time around, there was going to be a "new and improved" Romney who would "de-emphasiz[e] social issues" like immigration. But he can't help himself.

What's next for Romney in this campaign against immigrant youth? Alabama has to be tempting for him. Will Romney do a campaign swing to Alabama to help enforce that state's new "papers please" law? He can help find undocumented five, six and seven year olds in Alabama schools. That will show just how tough he is on immigration. The scary thing is that Mitt is so craven, he probably would.

Cross-posted at America's Voice and Daily Kos.