The word "despistado" in Spanish literally means "off the track." In the right context in English, it describes someone who is out of touch. Last night during the South Carolina debate, GOP candidate Mitt Romney was a "despistado" when it comes to immigration issues and the Latino vote.
First of all, we won't even comment on the booing that Fox News' Juan Williams got from the audience when he asked that even though Romney's dad was born in Mexico, why has Romney's immigration stance alienated Latino voters? Much has been said already about Romney's association with the Father of Arizona's SB 1070 law, Kris Kobach, to the point that the Mexican press and his own Mexican cousins have criticized Romney's position.
The long and short of all this. Romney is clear:
- He will never support the DREAM Act.
- He suggested that all undocumented in the United States should be deported back to their own countries and get to the back of the immigration line.
- He wants a secure border (read a border fence) that would stem the tide of illegal immigration.
- It is all about Mexico, there is no mention of other places where illegal immigration is also prevalent, like Canada and Puerto Rico.
Romney is taking a huge risk and it is safe to say that his comments won't curry the favor of the vast majority of Latino voters. Maybe Romney will wake up, but as long as he praises Kobach, he is only alienating many voters who in the end see this issue as a key one for the 2012 election. Sure, Latinos want jobs but they also want respect. Romney's comments just play into the anti-Latino, anti-immigration rhetoric that is hurting the GOP party. If Romney were smart, he would follow the lead of the country's top Latino evangelical and just stop his neo-nativist views now or else he will blink and congratulate President Obama for winning another term.
By the way, we are NOT the only ones who are saying this. For a GOP perspective, check out the page of Café Con Leche Republicans and the brilliant essay by Professor Stephen A. Nuño we published this weekend.