The DREAM Act. Amnesty. Kris Kobach. Illegals. Undocumented. Arizona.
The second presidential debate on Tuesday night finally touched on immigration—one of the towering issues among Latinos—and it came loaded with all the trigger words that send temperatures rising.
There was little new in what President Obama and challenger Republican Mitt Romney said about their views on immigration. And so, if anything, both candidates further cemented their positions on immigration, particularly on the undocumented—echoing most of the talking points of their campaigns.
But Romney went deeper into some corners of the immigration debate that have gotten him in trouble with many Latinos and advocates of more lenient immigration policies—corners that his campaign doggedly had tried to avoid.
He uttered the controversial word “illegals” when speaking about undocumented immigrants.
Romney has used the term, which critics deride as dehumanizing, before, but this time it was before tens of millions of viewers and social media users, and on the heels of recent efforts to soften his rhetoric on immigration.
Twitter went bonkers after Romney said it.
“Except [for] Mitt, never heard a nom[inee] use the slur ‘illegals,’” tweeted Frank Sharry, the founder and executive director of America’s Voice, a group that advocates for a more lenient approach to immigration. “Not Reagan, Bush, or McCain. No Dem[ocrat]. Most anti-immigrant candidate ever.”
For many, Romney’s use of the word and his reaffirmation of strict stances on illegal immigration put into sharp relief his image as a hawk on the issue.
“Mitt Romney continues to adhere to rhetoric on immigration that has alienated the Latino community,” said DRM Action Coalition, a group that supports undocumented youth, in a statement. “Many DREAMers were watching tonight hoping to see whether Mitt Romney could restore sensibility to the immigration debate. But he demonstrated his lack of sensitivity towards us by calling us ‘Illegals.’” Read the full article on FOX NEWS Latino.