Dear Mitt Romney: Stop the Immigration Lies

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event at the University of Miami, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event at the University of Miami, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in Coral Gables, Fla. (AP Photo/El Nuevo Herald, Hector Gabino) MAGS OUT

Does Mitt Romney think we're not paying attention?

Romney is trying to appeal to Latino voters with a TV ad that criticizes President Obama for not passing comprehensive immigration reform and promises that "Romney and the Republicans will fight for bipartisan reform to bring families together."

Who could believe a word of this? I for one don't want the so-called reforms that Romney is selling. They are bad for Latinos, bad for our country, and just flat-out insulting.

Here's what Romney has said about his immigration reform plans in the past. He praised Arizona's SB1070, which would have essentially legalized racial profiling, requiring Latinos in Arizona to carry their papers with them at all times in order to avoid arrest. Then he brought on Kris Kobach, the man who had designed that bill, as an immigration adviser.

Romney endorsed Rep. Steve King, who has called for building an "electric fence" between the U.S. and Mexico, comparing immigrants to "livestock" and "dogs." Then Romney said King would be his "partner in Washington."

Romney said that if Congress had passed the DREAM Act under his presidency, he would veto it.

Romney frequently talks about "self-deportation," the idea that if you make life miserable enough for undocumented immigrants, they'll leave on their own. We saw this plan in action in Alabama this year, when a new law required schools to check students' immigration status. They got what they wanted when the day after the law went into effect, thousands of Hispanic students didn't show up for school. Nuestra familias -- con documentos y sin documentos -- left the state, causing a massive labor shortage.

Law enforcement officials across the country have said that driving undocumented people into the shadows -- out of school, away from hospitals, and away from cooperation with law enforcement -- is exactly how we should not deal with illegal immigration. It creates a permanent underclass. It jeopardizes public safety. It does nothing to fix a broken immigration system. And yet that's exactly what Mitt Romney wants to do.

Romney thinks we're not paying attention when he talks derisively about making "illegals" "self-deport" one day and the next day airs an ad claiming he's the best candidate to deal with immigration reform. Anybody who's been paying even a little bit of attention to this election knows that that's hogwash.

That's why immigrants' rights groups are calling for Romney to take down the ad. That's why groups like People For the American Way are reaching out to Latino voters to tell them the truth. Romney's trying to get away with a whopper of a lie to Latino voters. Unluckily for him, we are paying attention.

Siempre en la lucha,
Dolores Huerta