Here is what Mitt Romney said to Bob Schieffer about President Obama’s decision to legislate the DREAM Act by presidential fiat when it failed to get through Congress:
ROMNEY: This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by Senator Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the president jumped in and said I’m going to take this action . . . He was president for the last three and a half years and did nothing on immigration. Two years he had a Democrat House and Senate, did nothing of a permanent or long-term basis. What I would do, is I’d make sure that by coming into office, I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally. . . .
SCHIEFFER: But would you repeal this? . . .
ROMNEY: My anticipation is I’d come into office and say we need to get this done, on a long-term basis, not this kind of stop-gap measure. What the president did, he should have worked on this years ago, if he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn’t. He saves these sort of things until four and a half months before the general election.
This is what Romney should have said:
This was a lawless act. It violated the Constitution. The president broke his vow to uphold our laws and usurped the responsibilities of both houses of Congress. You cannot have anyone — governor, senator, congressman or the president — simply making up laws as he goes along. I trust that members of Congress will seek a ruling from the courts on its unconstitutionality. But even those who favor the substantive measure must agree that this cannot stand.
Interviewer: But would you repeal it?
Romney: I hope that when I am inaugurated, this illegality will already have been withdrawn or ruled unconstitutional. It is not too late for the president to have wiser second thoughts. But if it is still standing, then of course I will withdraw it and ask Congress to consider a wider and more thoughtful review of immigration law — one that strengthens our borders and ensures that immigration and citizenship are determined by the American people and their elected representatives. You cannot have our immigration laws determined by some people who smuggle people into America and others who manage to evade the police once here. You cannot have U.S. citizenship granted to people who break into our country and manage to have a child before they are caught. You cannot have two presidents in succession breaking their vow to uphold the Constitution. The people must be able to trust those they elect.
Why it matters — two reasons:
First, Romney’s weasel-like willingness to condemn Obama for a measure he won’t promise to withdraw looks calculating and even cowardly. It arouses all the earlier suspicions about him.
Second, this issue is double-bladed. Opposition to the president’s on-the-hoof law-making among non-Hispanic white and black Americans may be less intense than its support among Hispanic Americans (though that is not certain). But the fact that those groups add up to a far larger percentage of the electorate than Hispanics means Romney might lose more votes than he will gain.
The establishment media likes to argue that such opposition is confined to what it calls “the nativist base of the GOP.” They should get out more.
In the last decade there have been four major attempts — supported by the leaderships of all major parties, the churches, the labor unions, corporate America, the Law, Medicine, and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all — to enact a reform of immigration law that included some form of amnesty for illegal entry into the U.S. All these attempts were defeated by public resistance. Not some, all. Almost two-thirds of Americans, including a plurality of Democrats, opposed such versions of “comprehensive immigration reform.” They oppose them still. But they are invisible to the political consultants and correspondents who think on behalf of the Republican elite.
Immigration and citizenship are not partisan issues. They resonate in particular with working-class voters in both parties who are a swing vote at worst. As several political correspondents have noted, the Obama campaign has written off these voters, or at least, those of them who are white. But Romney — the personification of the Boss Class — has not yet sealed the deal with them. And if he backs off from defending the U.S. Constitution because it obstructs an amnesty for illegal immigrants and their children, he never will.