Written by: Tony Weigel, AILA Media-Advocacy Committee
I have participated in several meetings with Congressional staffers about immigration policy since 2006. I have had the same thoughts and questions about these interactions every time. I hoped to make some minimal impact, naïve as that may seem. Afterwards, I mainly focused on the question of whether or not I had just wasted my time? Was this person truly engaged? Did they make some note of the issues discussed? Would they share anything meaningful with their member of Congress? Most importantly, did my interaction with this politician’s representative engender any trust?
I suspect that interactions and agreements among politicians and candidates are somewhat similar. If they are, you have to wonder what goes on behind the scenes to garner endorsements.
Following the New Hampshire Republican primary, two separate endorsements of candidate Mitt Romney caught my attention. On January 11th, the Romney campaign announced that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach endorsed his campaign, welcomed him to the team, and looked forward to working with him. On that same day, it was reported that the Romney campaign was running Spanish-language campaign advertisements in south Florida featuring Congressional Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart and former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
It is hard to imagine how the Romney campaign managed to pull this off. On one hand, you have three of only eight House Republicans who voted for the December 2010 version of the DREAM Act (H.R. 5281). On the other, you have a politician that has opposed the DREAM Act at every turn, labeling it an “amnesty.” Politician Kobach has even taken the extreme position of labeling Representative Lamar Smith’s draconian, E-Verify mandate bill, H.R. 2164, as yet another amnesty.
It would be interesting to know more about how these two diverse endorsements came together. Did these three Florida Republicans know about the pending Kobach endorsement? If they knew their endorsement would run concurrently with Kobach’s, exactly how did this impact their respective decisions to endorse Romney and participate in the Spanish language ad?
Regardless if these Florida Republicans knew or did not know, it is hard to imagine how one can reconcile policy differences as distinct from each other as the cold winter streets of Topeka, Kansas, and the sun-splashed beaches of Miami. Candidate Romney has promised to veto the DREAM Act and fully endorsed Kobach’s policies. These policy positions stand in stark contrast to those supported by these Florida Republicans and a majority of Republicans, as expressed in a recent Fox News poll.
We may never know what happened or why, but something generated mutual trust among an unlikely group of allies. Given the incomparable divide on immigration policies, time will tell which side will win out over the other in a prospective Romney Administration.