President Obama’s new immigration policy has been called a deft political move. Not only does it help secure the Latino vote, but he has GOP leaders tongue tied. Any outspoken criticism of the proposal could risk Republicans’ chances for the Hispanic vote.
The policy allows qualifying illegal immigrants, those younger than 30 who came to the U.S before they were 16, who were brought to the country as children to remain in the country without the possibility of deportation.
It’s estimated that this act could help around 800,000 immigrants.
The President has described the proposal as “more fair, more efficient and more just.”
“This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure.”
While Obama says it’s the “right thing to do” for the country, it’s left Republicans without a ‘right’ move.
GOP leaders are stuck. If they criticize the proposal too harshly, they may alienate Hispanic voters. However, if they don’t criticize the proposal, they could alienate conservative voters.
While Rep. Barletta (R-Luzerne), chairman of the Immigration Caucus, has slammed the order, other prominent Republicans, including Governor Corbett and House Speaker John Boehner have remained been largely silent on the proposal.
Mitt Romney, usually an outspoken critic of the President, has also not commented. Rather than attack the policy, he criticized the tactic Obama used: a unilateral executive order.
What he did say was that the country needs a more long-term solution.
“I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis, so they know what their future would be in this country.”
“If I’m president, we’ll do our very best to have that kind of long-term solution that provides certainty and clarity for the people who come into this country through no fault of their own by virtue of the action of their parents.”
In a speech Thursday, Romney laid out a more detailed position on immigration, including a path to citizenship for those who have served in the military. But he still declined to say that he would repeal Obama’s order.
“Some people have asked if I will let stand the President’s executive action,” he told a conference of the National Association Of Latino Elected Officials. “The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President’s temporary measure.”
However, Romney may not have to worry about his standing in Pennsylvania over the policy.
Dr. Chris Borick, Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, doesn’t think the move will increase the President’s chances of winning PA.
“I’m not sure the bump that he gets here among Hispanic voters and more energized progressives will offset any further alienation that he may create among working class white voters in places like Southwestern PA.”
“The Obama calculus is probably that the gains they may get in a place like Florida may be worth some losses in Pa where they assume they have a little larger margin to play with.”
He added that while he may receive the Hispanic vote, he risks losing the white working class vote.
About 5.7 percent of PA’s population is Hispanic or Latino, according to the 2010 census. the National average is 16.7 percent.