Washington, DC – Senator Harry Reid, Rep. Charlie Gonzalez and Dolores Huerta held a press conference call today Monday, February 27 in light of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s endorsement of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney has promised to veto the DREAM Act, has embraced the endorsement of Kris Kobach, the architect of the anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama, has crowned Governor Pete Wilson, a pioneer of anti-immigrant legislation as an honorary co-chair of his campaign, and would have undocumented immigrants self-deport. Governor Brewer’s endorsement and labeling Arizona as a model for a national immigration law further shows that Mitt Romney would be the most extreme presidential nominee of our time on immigration.
Below are the prepared remarks from the call.
Thank you for joining us today. Yesterday on “Meet the Press,” the Governor of Arizona and enactor of the extreme anti-immigrant law that paved the way for similar measures in other states, Jan Brewer, endorsed Mitt Romney.
You can now add Jan Brewer to the laundry list of extreme Republicans who have endorsed Mitt Romney, which includes the architect of the Arizona law, Kris Kobach, and former California Governor Pete Wilson.
And, with friends like Mitt Romney’s friends, it’s no wonder he has gone so far to the right on immigration – he would be the most extreme presidential nominee of our time.
Just last week we learned that Mitt Romney would take that extreme Arizona law and use it to model a national anti-immigrant policy. Yes – he would nationalize the Arizona law.
Mitt Romney promised to veto the DREAM Act, which would help college students who came here through no fault of their own and know no other home. Saying they want a “handout,” as Romney has done, is a huge insult. The DREAM Act would enable them to earn a path to citizenship by going to college or serving our country.
Romney also once called comprehensive immigration reform “reasonable,” but now he derides sensible proposals as “magnets.” He once said it didn’t make sense to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country; now he wants to kick them all out, saying “self-deportation” is the answer for families who have lived here for generations.
Mitt Romney is out of touch with the Latino community and Americans all across the country on this issue, and with every new step he takes on immigration, he makes it clear: He is locked into his extreme positions, and he will only go further to the right – his positions are right wing, radical and wrong.
Now, it is my honor to turn the call over to Dolores Huerta.
Thank you, Representative Gonzalez.
The Latino community faces a key choice in this election. The reason is that these are not ordinary days. Our politicians are not debating ordinary policies.
The Republican field would be disastrous for the priorities of Latinos. The GOP candidates would slash funding for education, Medicare and Social Security. They oppose the DREAM Act and a path to citizenship for immigrants. They are wrong across the board on the values that have defined American tradition for generations.
Mitt Romney’s policies would have us all packing our bags and going home. He wants to make things so difficult for our families that we self-deport. But what he doesn’t understand is that we are home.
Is that the kind of rhetoric we want from someone leading our country?
The problem is that at some point Mitt Romney decided it was more important to associate with extreme elements of the Tea Party. He surrounds himself with the people who would help Wall Street write its own rules, block critical help to middle class Americans and stand in the way of the immigration reforms that have become synonymous with the American way of life for hundreds of years.
Let’s talk about one close friend of Romney’s – Kris Kobach. He is the godfather of the Alabama and Arizona anti-immigrant laws, but Mitt Romney is proud to have his endorsement. They talk about undocumented immigration not as the story of many families in our community, but as a plague – even though the story of immigration in this country has defined the history and traditions of so many American families.
I was just in Arizona last week – I went to show my support for the DREAM Act students who have bravely decided to step forward and make it clear to Mitt Romney that they will not be scared while he proposes laws that would inject fear into families and communities nationwide.
Let’s not forget who these kids are. They came here as children. They grew up here. This is their country. Some of them don’t even speak the language of the countries where they were born.
They are smart kids who care about the future of this country and will organize to make their voices heard. They came out because they want the opportunity they deserve – they want to be the next generation of doctors, teachers, researcher and engineers. They just want a chance.
But now it is clearer than ever: If Mitt Romney were president, he would let the Kobach-style immigration laws at the state level run wild and loose, and now we know that this is his national model. He would encourage measures that threaten to profile our children and stand in the way of critical support for middle class families like health care, Social Security and education. Is that what we want for our country, for our families?
And now Jan Brewer, Arizona’s infamous anti-immigrant governor, has endorsed Mitt Romney.
It’s not a surprising pick for Governor Brewer, considering Romney would be the most extreme presidential nominee of our time on the values that middle class Americans and Latinos hold most dear and are the most fundamental to the American traditions that have defined our country for generations.
That’s not how a friend of the Latino community behaves. That’s not how an American who values this country’s traditions behaves. Those are the actions of a candidate who is locked into the most far-right positions on immigration, and whose policies would amount to an attack on our communities. Someone who would say anything to get elected.
Mitt Romney promised to veto the DREAM Act. Does he even know what the DREAM Act does? The DREAM Act, in case he doesn’t know, is about helping college students who came here through no fault of their own and know no other home. The DREAM Act is about our children becoming doctors, teachers, nurses and professors. It’s about giving an opportunity to our military veterans to enjoy the benefits of the country they have fought so hard to defend.
So when Romney tells our kids he would veto the DREAM Act, that may play well with the Tea Party, but it’s a slap in the face to our community and stomps on the very dreams that have defined the American dream.
Romney thinks DREAM Act supporters want a “handout.” That’s a huge insult. And when that’s the kind of rhetoric that Republicans are pushing, he will only continue to move to the right if he is elected President.
We know Romney has cornered himself so far to the right that there’s just no way he’ll come back from that extreme position and adopt sensible policies.
So it’s up to Latino voters. It’s up to us to step forward and let Mitt Romney know: we’re not going anywhere. And all we need is a chance. Mitt Romney may say he’ll veto the DREAM Act. But in November, Latinos will veto Romney. And we’ll do it through the ballot box.
Thank you very much. Now I’d like to turn the call over to Senator Harry Reid.
Thank you, Charlie and Dolores for your words.
Our broken immigration system needs common-sense solutions. Sadly, Republican leaders, including their Presidential candidates, chose instead to cater to the Tea Party, competing for the ‘most extreme’ label.
The only way to fix our broken immigration system is through comprehensive, common-sense reform. We cannot do it without Republicans: our last attempt at passing the DREAM Act failed because 90% of Senate Republicans filibustered this sensible bill.
I call on my colleagues to reconsider their decision to bolt further to the right, and help Democrats and President Obama solve the problem.
Unfortunately all Republicans are talking about are electrified fences, self-deportation and vetoing bills like the DREAM Act —ironically authored by a very conservative Republican.
This is no longer Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party. It is controlled by extremists like Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who legalized the racial profiling of Hispanics through Arizona law SB 1070.
Laws like Arizona’s and Alabama’s that open the door to discrimination against all Latinos, even those who are American citizens and legal residents, do not represent American values.
I am greatly concerned that Mitt Romney has accepted Gov. Brewer’s endorsement.
Gov. Romney had already recruited Kris Kobach, the author of the Arizona and Alabama laws, as his immigration advisor, and called the Arizona law a "model."
Americans want a solution that secures our borders; that holds unscrupulous employers accountable; and that requires the 10 million who are undocumented to register with the government, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English and go to the end of the line to earn legal status.
Americans don’t support misguided laws that have already cost Alabama and Arizona billions of dollars in economic losses.
They are so disastrous Gov. Brewer last week refused to testify in front of the Senate about Arizona’s law, even though she is in Washington all week.
I hope Governor Brewer will reconsider our invitation. If she is truly proud of her law, why turn down an opportunity to defend it?
As we move forward, I hope Republicans in Congress will play a constructive role and call on their candidates to abandon this divisive rhetoric, and support common-sense reforms that will actually fix the problem.
Republicans should join Democrats and President Obama in passing the DREAM Act and Comprehensive Immigration Reform.