Published: November 12, 2012

According to many of our nation’s leading pundits and political commentators, it was the “Hispanic Vote” that made President Obama’s reelection possible. What exactly is the “Hispanic Vote”? It seems to have a variety of meanings, although the common theme would be that it is the demographic composed of U.S. citizens with origins in Mexico and Central and South America. President Obama won an overwhelming majority of this segment of our electorate, and no doubt that was as much as result of what President Obama made clear he stood for, as it did with what Candidate Romney’s shortcomings in making clear what he stood for, most notably in the area of immigration law.

Throughout his presidency, including his reelection campaign, Obama was definite about where he stood on immigration and how he would address the issue of having 12 million individuals living in the U.S. without legal immigration status. Whether you agreed with his position or not, you knew what it was – that a path to legalization must be enacted for long-time residents with no significant criminal background and are not burdens on society. In other words, if you are a hard-working, honest, otherwise law abiding, de facto American – albeit undocumented, then there is a place for you continue to live in American society. From there, we have – among other benefits, millions of workers coming out of the shadows, paying taxes and investing in houses and other aspects of our economy.

Obama’s plan is not a perfect solution of course, but to his thinking (which I agree with), it’s better than the alternatives – which would be to 1) commence an unprecedented initiative to place 12 million folks in removal proceedings or 2) continue the status quo – our society’s de facto amnesty – where the spotty enforcement of our immigration laws that has been going on in the U.S. for decades continues, and those here working and living illegally continue to do so, but with always an eye in the rear view mirror.

Romney’s position, I mean positions, on immigration, depended on the day and time you asked him about it. At the Republican debate he unequivocally stated he’d veto the DREAM Act, and was opposed to talk of any comprehensive immigration reform. After getting the Republican nomination, he did an about face, and stated that DREAM Act type legislation is not enough, and that some sort of comprehensive immigration reform, legalization program for all the country’s undocumented was needed. And he had the gall to criticize Obama for implementing Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – the program which allows certain young adults to obtain a 2 year work permit, stating that such a temporary remedy is inadequate.

Speaking of DACA, it was the point at which Obama announced the program on June 15, 2012, that was one of the most critical moments in his bid for reelection. It was at that moment, he forced Romney into a corner and pressed him for his stance on immigration. It was Romney’s indefinite, flip flopping on this issue that sealed his fate.

From Karl Rove’s melt down on national TV during election night coverage, to the emergence and failures of the mega-financed Super Pacs, the commentators have had excellent material to comment on as they look back on the election and the shortcomings of today’s Republican Party. As to the Republican approach to our nation’s immigration problem, most telling is the fact that the farthest right commentators and politicians – Sen. Lindsey Graham, House Speaker John Boehner, Sean Hannity and Charles Krauthammer all included- appear to have now hopped on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bandwagon. Along the lines of “if you can’t beat em, join em”, it’s my sense the Republicans will show up to be a meaningful partner to the Democrats on an immigration reform, path to legalization, deal within the coming year.

Copyright © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois