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Romney Allies on Both Sides of Immigration Debate Romney Allies on Both Sides of Immigration Debate

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Romney Allies on Both Sides of Immigration Debate

Immigration advocates are raising hackles over today's endorsement of Mitt Romney by former California Gov. Pete Wilson. Wilson, of course, championed California's Proposition 187, which would have barred illegal immigrants from public schools and other government services. The referendum, which passed but was struck down in court, caused a sweeping anti-GOP backlash among Hispanics. "Didn't any of (Romney's) so-called smart operatives tell him that Pete Wilson has lower approval ratings than the devil himself?'' demanded a hyperbolic Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice.

The group pointed out in its e-mail blast today that Romnney's backers also include Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who helped write the controversial law cracking down on illegal immigrants in Arizona, and Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, another immigration hardliner.

But to be fair, Romney's supporters also include some of the Republican party's few and most prominent backers of a pathway to citizenship: Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehntinen and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

In conclusion, sometimes it's tricky to assign motives to a candidate based on their friends. What is clear, however, is Romney's own words and policies, which have a lot more common with the hardliners than the reformers and could thwart Hispanic outreach if he is the GOP nominee.

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