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Romney: The Mexican-American Candidate

Patrick Osio for HispanicVista, Op-Ed

Editor’s Note: As Gov. Mitt Romney trails in the polls in key swing states, a secret video released on Monday, is stirring more controversy in the Romney campaign camp. In the footage, which was filmed during a private fundraiser earlier this year, Romney told wealthy donors that his father grew up poor after being born to American parents living in Mexico. Romney then joked that it would be helpful to him if his father were Latino. Romney also commented that half of Americans “believe they are victims” entitled to government hand-outs, and that it is not his job to care about “those people,” the Associated Press reports.

Romney has mentioned his Mexican roots on the campaign trail, hoping to form a connection with Latino voters (Romney’s great-grandfather fled to Mexico in 1885 to escape America’s anti-polygamy laws. His grandfather grew up there and his father was born there.) Commentator Patrick Osio, editor of HispanicVista, says he supports Romney’s economic policies, but urges the GOP candidate to not forget Mexico’s tolerant stance toward his ancestors who sought refuge there to escape religious persecution.

In the late 1880s, Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles P. Romney, and a number of family members suffering religious persecution in the United States sought refuge in Mexico. Refuge was granted, and thus the Romney clan settled in Mexico. Mitt’s father, George, was born there.

Mitt Romney can’t escape the reality that his father was born in Mexico, making the elder Romney a Mexican citizen by birthright. In turn, this makes Mitt Romney a second-generation U.S. citizen of Mexican descent – commonly referred to as Mexican-American.

Romney accepts his father was born in Mexico, but he does not acknowledge his heritage and ignores the several hundred Romney family members who still live in the country. But, it doesn’t change the facts: He, like it or not, ignore it or acknowledge it, is a member of the U.S. Hispanic community.

Romney knows that his ancestors escaped religious persecution thanks to Mexico’s hospitality. Mexico, like the United States, forbade polygamy, but exercised tolerance and respect.

Why then would Romney, whose own family sought refuge and benefited from tolerance and generosity, support immigration policies that punish several million of Mexico’s poor who have over the years crossed the border illegally in search of a better life (economic refugees)? Would he at a minimum champion immigration reform?

To the dismay of many during Romney’s campaign for the nomination, he embraced states with mean-spirited and draconian laws, and personalities who promote and participate in raids netting any brown-skinned person be he U.S. citizen or not, making a mockery of civil and constitutional rights.

Now, as the Republican presidential candidate, Romney must adhere to the platform endorsed by his party. It calls for the harshest treatment of undocumented immigrants, so they will self-deport back to a life of poverty. It repeals higher educational opportunities for young people who came the United States as children. There will be no immigration reform, and no path to citizenship. The GOP platform allows immigration for the highly educated, but remains hostile to guest worker programs in the agricultural sector where there is a critical need.

Romney belongs to The Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), a noble and compassionate religion. All Americans uphold the separation of church and state in politics, and so must Romney if he is elected, but religious teaching is also about morals and character. How does one separate from that? How does he justify his stance on immigration that is contrary to that of his religion’s? How does he justify his ingratitude to the people whose country once saved his family?

There is a great need for Americans to elect someone who is a tough businessman, who will stop the wild and irresponsible spending and continuing slide into Socialism. Romney is highly qualified and potentially he could put the United States back on track.

But if Mexican-American Romney reaches the White House without his moral compass, it will gain him and the nation little.

Patrick Osio, the editor of HispanicVista, can be contacted at

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