Latino voters gathered in a Google+ Hangout to watch Romney’s speech (video)
Univision News reporter Emily DeRuy moderated a Google+ Hangout with Latino voters to gauge their reaction to Romney’s speech.
By EMILY DERUY
The group of Latino voters that gathered via an ABC News/Yahoo News Google+ Hangout to watch Mitt Romney accept the Republican nomination for president ranged from liberal to conservative, from the East Coast to the Midwest, but they all agreed on one thing: any president or presidential candidate who wants to win over Latinos needs to address immigration.
And not just by promising to pass comprehensive immigration reform once elected. Obama vowed to do it, but a series of obstacles, including a Congress that could not seem to work across party lines, have prevented it. Romney says he’ll pass reforms, but hasn’t released a detailed plan.
“Immigration is the gateway to Latino voters,” said Aaron Rodriguez, a firefighter and conservative blogger from Wisconsin.
Rodriguez, along with Veronica Arreola, a self-proclaimed feminist, educator and mother who writes an award-winning blog in Chicago, and Christian Ucles, a Honduras-born Republican-turned-Democrat working on a marriage equality initiative in Minnesota, all want the DREAM Act to move forward.
The Obama administration recently enacted a policy that allows undocumented young people brought to the country as children to apply for deportation relief for a renewable period of two years, but several in the panel said it’s not enough.
“I do fear that if Romney were to win the election, he would immediately revoke [the deferred action program],” Arreola said, adding that the administration would then have a record of undocumented immigrants.
Rodriguez said Romney will face pressure to repeal the program, and added that “the real question” is whether he would follow it with reform.
Ucles doesn’t think that’s likely.
While deferred action “is not perfect,” he said, “This is the best we can get because we don’t have a Congress than can work together.”
He added that if Obama wins reelection, there will be high expectations for true reform. If it doesn’t happen, he added, 2016 will be “the year” for Republicans, and he predicted that more Latinos would shift Republican in the hopes that the party might pass reform.
The three panelists agreed that to tackle immigration effectively, the next president will need to work beyond the country’s borders, particularly with Mexico.
Rodriguez said he would be a “fan” of a guest-worker program that extended stays for undocumented immigrants so they could work in the United States.
He also supports the idea of a fence along the southern border.
“I think it’s very important, and I think most Latinos would agree on this, to build a strong fence on the southern border, to control that southern border for the purposes of keeping cartels out,” he said.
Arreola and Ucles reacted in a manner that suggested “most Latinos” do not agree.
“Definitely not,” Arreola said, adding that she would like to see the U.S. halt funding to “corrupt” militaries that are “adding fuel to the fire of the drug war,” particularly in Honduras.
“I think with any fence, somebody will just build a bigger ladder to get through,” she said.
Ucles agreed, saying, “Obviously a fence is not going to work.”
He said curbing the drug war starts with building up the economies in countries that are the most impacted.
While Rodriguez said Romney has a private sector “legacy” of fixing failing businesses, Arreola and Ucles expressed concern about Romney’s plan to “shrink” the government.
Rodriguez agreed Romney needs to do a better job of explaining why he should not be “culpable for his successes,” and added that he also needs to strengthen his “anemic” family-man image.
“Mitt has a problem of looking more like a Ken doll,” than someone who spends time with family, he said, noting the discrepancy between the man campaigning for president and the home videos of the loving, playful father displayed at the convention.
There is one thing on which all three participants agreed: Mitt Romney has absolutely perfect hair.
“I just kind of want to go up to Romney someday,” Rodriguez said, “and mess up his hair!”