Republicans have adopted a party platform on immigration that would require employers nationwide to verify workers’ legal status and deny federal financing to universities that allow illegal immigrant students to enroll at lower in-state tuition rates.
In their debates this week in Tampa, Fla., over the party platform, Republican delegates hammered out an immigration plank calling for tough border enforcement and opposing “any forms of amnesty” for illegal immigrants, instead endorsing “humane procedures to encourage illegal aliens to return home voluntarily,” a policy of self-deportation.
If you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today – Mr. Kobach (R)
The party’s platform stance comes as Mitt Romney has been moving to court Hispanic voters before the general election. During the nominating fight last year, he took a hard line on immigration, embracing the concept of “self-deportation” and saying he would veto legislation known as the Dream Act, which would give legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the United States when they were children.
But recently, Mr. Romney has sought to soften his stance, saying he would consider a Dream Act for illegal immigrants who serve in the military.
The party platform offers no support for that proposal. A number of immigration amendments were offered by Kris Kobach, a conservative who is secretary of state of Kansas and was an author of laws in Arizona and several other states to crack down on illegal immigration.
Mr. Kobach proposed the plank calling for mandatory use by employers of a federal electronic system known as E-Verify to confirm the legal immigration status of new hires. “If you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today,” Mr. Kobach said.
At his urging, the delegates also adopted a call to complete a double-layer border fence and to end federal lawsuits challenging state enforcement laws like Arizona’s.
The distance — at least on paper — between the Republican party and mainstream Hispanic organizations was highlighted on Wednesday when the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition that includes 30 of the country’s largest Latino groups, issued a list of proposals it will promote at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. The coalition endorsed passage of the Dream Act for all undocumented students as well as “comprehensive immigration reform” to give millions of other illegal immigrants an “earned path to legalization.”
The Hispanic groups want to “demilitarize” the southwest border and curtail state and local enforcement of immigration laws. Though Hispanics generally favor Democrats, they have shown signs of cooling on President Obama, who pledged to pursue immigration reform as a candidate in 2008 but who only recently has drawn accolades from immigrant rights groups bytaking executive action to halt deportations of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants who came here when they were children.
Both campaigns are scrambling to court Hispanics because of their potential clout in swing states including Florida, Nevada and Colorado.