During the Republican presidential primary campaign, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called on undocumented immigrants to “self-deport” and voluntarily return to their home countries.
“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here,” he said during a Republican debate in Tampa, Florida, in January. Opposing efforts to give legal status to undocumented immigrants without first requiring that they leave the country, he called that “amnesty.”
“For Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off that she’s going to self-deport, this is an Obama-level fantasy,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said during the campaign.
The debate may have helped Romney win the party’s nomination, but could hurt him in the general election.
A Pew Hispanic Center survey released today found 61 percent of Hispanic registered voters saying the Democratic Party has more concern for Hispanics than do Republicans, the highest level in 10 years of polling and up from 45 percent in 2011. Ten percent said the Republican Party shows more concern.
That has translated into overwhelming support for Obama. Registered Hispanic voters support the president over Romney, by 69 to 21 percent in the survey. That’s larger than Obama’s share of the Hispanic community in 2008, when he received 67 percent to 31 percent of the vote against Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
The key for Obama will be getting Hispanics to the polls. The Pew survey found 77 percent saying they are “absolutely certain” to vote, compared with 89 percent of the general population. The survey of 903 Hispanic registered voters was taken Sept. 7-Oct. 4 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.