John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Mitt the Mexican

Posted on January 27, 2012


There were two really good moments for Mitt Romney is last night’s debate.

One was his smack-down of Newt Gingrich’s moon colony remarks.

I am in favor of a moon colony, by the way, but Newt only trotted out his proposal when he addressed Florida’s Space Coast, and as Romney pointed out, Newt has a habit of promising pork in every State he campaigns in.

Given the anti-pork nature of the Republican primary voter, I thought that was nice shot by the Massachusetts governor.

The other moment came when Mitt responded to the Gingrich allegation that Romney was the most anti-immigrant Republican candidate left in the race.

He was furious and he showed it, which showed that he has a strong spine.

But he also let everyone know that he is a Mexican immigrant too, which must have been a revelation to most of the television audience last night.

I wonder how his Spanish is.

Jeb Bush pointed out in a Washington Post op-ed that the Hispanic community is a pretty diverse group.  Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Hondurans, El Salvadorans, Columbians, Nicaraguans all have different reasons for coming to the United States.  They share the same language, but they don’t necessarily share the same life experiences, views of the United States, habits or wealth potential.

They all probably have a shared frustration, however, with our immigration system, because, let’s face it, our immigration system is broken.

We don’t do enough to keep dangerous illegals out of the country, and we don’t do enough to encourage legal immigrants to stay.

Our immigration system isn’t very user friendly.  It is a big bureaucracy made worse by under-staffing, stupid rules (Dry foot, wet foot?  Really?), and a dearth of common-sense.

Everybody knows that the system is broken, but reform is stymied by the amnesty bugaboo, and by a nativist mean streak that has persisted in America for 200 years.

And let’s not kid ourselves.  Some people profit by a broken immigration system.  Some businesses can exploit illegal immigrant labor and pay less than a living wage.

And we need to show some common sense compassion for families that have been in America for decades.  Threatening to kick them out of the country makes the situation worse.

There was a funny moment when Gingrich made his usual plea to take it easy on immigrant grandmothers, and Romney pointed out that the problem wasn’t 11 million grandmothers.

Given how Congress usually operates, a thought immediately came to my mind: Congress gives grandmothers an exemption.  The result:  A group of very young grandmothers cropping up in the border states.

But I digress.

Mitt may not be Mexican, but he was strong last night in the debate.