Obama: The only immigration reform Romney supports is “self-deportation” (video)
President Obama hit back hard at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has toned down his immigration rhetoric with the hopes of making inroads with Latino voters.
In an interview on Sunday with Univision Denver affiliate KVSN, Obama was asked asked why he deserves support from the Latino community in his reelection bid despite a lack of progress on immigration reform and a down economy. The president ran down a laundry list of first-term accomplishments, including his healthcare law and deferred action, contrasting his policies with those of Romney.
“The only immigration reform he believes in his self-deportation,” Obama told reporter Vanessa Bernal.
The Romney campaign called Obama’s comments false, saying that the struggling economy is forcing the president to demonize his Republican opponent.
“Since he hasn’t accomplished anything of importance to Hispanics, it’s not surprising that President Obama is resorting to making outrageous and untrue statements,” said Romney adviser Albert Martinez.
Romney has not revoked his support for his attrition via enforcement doctrine designed to drive undocumented immigrants out of the country by self-deporting. But Romney has said that he supports expanding high-skilled visas, a path to legal status for some undocumented youth who serve in the military, and increasing visa caps that would allow legal immigrant families to stay together.
The president’s comments come after Romney and Republicans made outward efforts to appeal to Latino voters last week at their convention in Tampa, Florida. Romney is running far behind with Latino voters, who favor President Obama two-to-one.
That could hurt him in battleground states with growing Latino populations like Colorado. A July Latino Decisions poll found Romney trailing Obama badly among Colorado Latinos, 70-22 percent. But Romney appeared to receive a slight post-convention bump nationally among Latinos, according to a Latino Decisions/impreMedia survey released Monday.
During the convention, Republicans featured a deep bench of Latino speakers and Romney’s advisers emphasized that the candidate would take a “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform as president, even though he does not support one of the critical elements of comprehensive immigration reform, the possibility for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to earn citizenship while remaining here.
“I actually believe that what you have to do is move with a series of steps that create confidence on both sides of what is a very difficult and emotional issue,” said Romney adviser John Sununu, adding it would involve a “comprehensive package addressing the problems.”
Republicans also knocked Obama for not accomplishing his pledge to bring up immigration reform during his first year in office.
“He promised to bring us all together, to cut unemployment, to pass immigration reform in his first year, and even promised to cut the deficit in half, in his first term,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. “Do you remember that? But he hasn’t come close.”
Obama brought up the positions Romney had adopted during the primary, including the concept of “self-deportation” and the fact he would veto the DREAM Act, both stances that rankled Latinos.
“The only reason we haven’t gotten it so far is because the Republican Party is opposed to it. In their own party platform they stated their opposition to it. So, this is not something that I’m making up,” Obama told Univision. “They’re on record saying that they don’t want to get it done.”
The president also dismissed Republican efforts to win over Latino voters on the economy, saying that Romney’s agenda of tax cuts and slashing government programs isn’t a winner for Latinos.
“I don’t think that’s a recipe for economic growth that the Latino community should want to get behind,” he said.
The president predicted that Republicans could change their tune on immigration if Latinos show up in November and hand him a second term.
“I think what we’ll see is that after the election, they they’re going to have to rethink their strategy if they see that the Latino vote has come out,” he said. “I think that there are going to be at least some Republicans that find that approach to be the right one.”