Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
Anti-SB 1070 protesters in downtown Phoenix on the day the law took effect, July 29, 2010
Two years ago today, Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law a bill known as SB 1070. Already, the strict anti-illegal immigration bill had caused heated debate in and out of Arizona, most notably because it would make it a misdemeanor to lack proper immigration documents in the state - and because it would empower local police to check for immigration status if they had “reasonable suspicion” that someone was in the country illegally.
Back then, I wrote about the broad implications that SB 1070 would likely have. Would there be a political ripple effect, with other states considering similar laws? Would some immigrants decide they'd had enough and leave the state? Would it change the political discourse on immigration, with politicians basing their platforms on strict policies? And if tested in court, would it hold up?
Photo by Mandel Nhag
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida
Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has said a couple of times in the last week that he has no intention of running for vice president with GOP presidential nominee-apparent Mitt Romney, but that hasn't stopped the speculation that he still might.
His seeming Freudian slip this week during a meeting with press didn't help: "If in four, five, six, seven years from now, if I do a good job as vice president - I'm sorry, as senator - I'll have the chance to do all sorts of things." It prompted laughs and of yes, more speculation.
Rubio is one of a few potential veep picks, among them former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But Bush, while he said he'd consider it, passed the buck back to Rubio in a recent interview, calling Rubio "possibly the best" choice.
The bulk of the nation's Latino voters might be harder to convince. In spite of a recent turnabout that has included developing a stripped-down version of the Development, Relief and Education for Immigrant Minors (DREAM) Act without a clear path to citizenship, Rubio is still remembered for his tough talk on immigration in 2010. He also belongs to specific subset of Latino voters, i.e. conservative Cuban American South Floridians, who have relatively little in common politically with most Latino voters in other parts of the country.
Photo by Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
Mitt Romney, March 2010
Now that Rick Santorum has dropped out the race and Mitt Romney is fairly assured of the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign seems to be working double-time to woo Latino voters.
It's not going to be easy. Throughout his campaign so far, Romney has taken a hard line on immigration, alienating Latino voters on an issue that may not rank as high as the economy, but is one that Latinos tend to take personally. And while immigration has been a sore point for both Romney and President Obama, Latino voters still favor Obama by a wide margin.
But recent developments in the Romney camp suggest there will be a heavy focus on reaching Latino voters as November nears, starting with:
1) Romney distancing himself from Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and activist attorney who has written many recent state anti-illegal immigration laws. From ABC News:
Photo by Calsidyrose/Fickr (Creative Commons)
It may or may not be a stretch to call it "the Latino primary," as some have called it, but there's no question that Florida's sizeable and evolving Latino electorate will play a big role in determining whether Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (the likely winner) or Newt Gingrich wins today's primary election in the Sunshine State.
As they and the other GOP candidates have spent the past two weeks wooing Florida's Latinos, a good part of the media discussion has revolved around immigration and how much it matters to Latino voters, and whether the harsh rhetoric seen earlier in the campaign could cost the party in November. There are broader questions, such as whether Florida's changing Latino voter profile will once again favor President Obama, who has been struggling with Latinos, or the GOP, which is struggling even more. Nationwide, even as Obama's Latino approval ratings slip, does a Republican candidate stand a chance with Latino voters in the fall?
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's comment about "self-deportation" during Monday's debate in Florida, referring to what others have long called "attrition through enforcement," has by now drawn an equal share of criticism and cracks.
The "Patriots for Self-Deportation" behind it advocate removing oneself to the land of one's ancestors, or as they put it, "the scene of the crime." From their press release, which quotes a spokesman named Stephen Winters:
"A surprising number of authentic patriots have found in their own genealogical searches that one or more of their ancestors came here or stayed here illegally, and yet continued to make a living in this country and have children who in turn became instant citizens," said Winters. "Some patriots, faced with this moral dilemma, have decided to set an example for others. Knowing that their own presence in this country is not on moral solid ground, they have decided to demonstrate the highest level of civic dedication and sacrifice, and engage in self-deportation."