During the GOP presidential primary, Mitt Romney staked out the most extreme position on immigration of any Republican candidate. Romney even campaigned with his immigration policy adviser Kris Kobach, the author of Alabama and Arizona’s harsh immigration laws, on Martin Luther King Day.
Now that Romney is the presumptive nominee, he’s trying to soften his immigration rhetoric to win over Hispanic voters. The Romney campaign even tried to publicly downgrade Kobach from “adviser” to mere “supporter” yesterday — an effort that failed after Kobach refused to play along.
Nor is this the only example of Kobach refusing to let Romney etch-a-sketch away his harsh positions on immigration. After Romney said over the weekend that Republicans need to embrace a Republican DREAM Act to win over Hispanic voters, Kobach told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent that the former Massachusetts governor will not support any version of the DREAM Act that offers a path to legal status — like the GOP version Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) plans to introduce. And he added that no Republican should support such a proposal:
[Kobach] stated flatly that he didn’t think Republicans — or Romney — should, or would, support any version of the DREAM Act that provides undocumented immigrants with any kind of path to legal status.
If Romney sticks to this — and Kobach said he would — there’s very little room for him to moderate his approach to immigration. In addition to advising Romney on immigration, Kobach is a national GOP voice on the issue, suggesting the right would not permit any move of this kind.
“I’d absolutely reject any proposal that would give a path to legal status for illegal aliens en masse,” Kobach said. “That is what amnesty is. I do not expect [Romney] to propose or embrace amnesty.”
Details of Rubio’s proposed DREAM Act have not been announced, but the first-term senator has outlined a plan that would not offer a direct path to citizenship but would enable them to remain in the country legally. Despite his promise to veto the DREAM Act earlier in his campaign, Romney told a crowd at a private fundraiser that he wants a Republican DREAM Act to make the GOP the party of “opportunity.”
But if Rubio’s plan includes a path to legal status, or if Romney supports a plan that does, then Kobach said it would be an “unacceptable” proposal. “A path to legal status for someone who is here illegally is amnesty by definition,” he said. “It gives the alien what he has stolen.”