Colorado GOP criticizes Obama's immigration policy, promotes "permanent solution"

Over the weekend, while reporting at the launch of Mitt Romney's Colorado campaign headquarters, we asked some of the state's GOP officials in attendance, what they thought of President Barack Obama's new policy about deportations and undocumented youth.

Unsurprisingly, they're not pleased.

But while they don't support Obama's plan, they're probably a bit thankful that the announcement at least gives them another Obama initiative to bash.

Last week, as we've reported, the Obama administration announced that it will halt the deportation of undocumented youth who immigrated to the United States as children and aren't a threat to national security (and meet other specific requirements). Locally, immigrant rights advocates were both excited by and skeptical of the news.

What about Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call?

"You know, I think most voters, especially here in Colorado, and most Coloradans, want to see a permanent solution, not a temporary mandate by executive order," Call said. "Having a president that rules by fiat rather than building the kind of consensus for a long-term solution to a very complicated problem, in my view, is evidence of a lack of leadership."

Call was referring to the fact that Obama's new deportation policy bypasses Congress, where a Democratic proposal called the DREAM Act -- which would give protections to children of illegal immigrants to work and live in the country -- hasn't gotten enough support from Republicans to pass.

"If you're going to enact meaningful, substantive reforms to complicated problems, you need to get in there and work for those kinds of bipartisan solutions, and this president has chosen instead to adopt a policy to try to win, in the short run, votes. It's a completely transparent political tactic to try and win the Hispanic votes," Call continued. "But I think that, especially for young people who are here in this country through no fault of their own, and the families of those immigrant communities, that uncertainty -- that is still there -- is not something that resolves their concerns. And it certainly doesn't resolve the concerns of millions of other Americans who are worried about an unsecure border and are worried about fixing this significant and complicated problem."

Is Call worried that the announcement will in fact take away Hispanic votes from Romney?

"I don't think so," Call said. "I think that most folks understand and see it as a pretty transparent ploy for votes. And the other thing is, if you're...from the Hispanic community.... Look, Obama made all sorts of promises last time around and didn't deliver on a one. And so for him to sort of use this kind of a tactic to again -- hold out the carrot and try and win votes -- is pretty cynical and pretty disappointing."

When asked about the solution he'd like to see for the immigration issue, Call echoed what Romney has been saying in response to Obama's announcement -- that the country needs a "more comprehensive" policy. Call said the country deserves a policy that encourages and supports work, especially in manufacturing, agriculture, and other industries important to Colorado. He floated ideas about guest-worker programs that could potentially lead to permanent residency or citizenship based on military service, etc.

And he didn't miss the opportunity to promote Romney.

"What we really need is a leader who's going to step in and try and forge a bipartisan compromise with the leaders in Congress, as opposed to someone who sidesteps Congress and enacts just a bandaid fix," Call said.

Westword also raised the issue with Mimi Bell, a Romney supporter at the event who works with the Colorado Hispanic Republicans.

"I think Mitt Romney said it best...[Obama] is trying to divert the issue," said Bell, 47, who was at the Lakewood event on Saturday with her 2-year-old granddaughter. "We need to go back to...the economy.... When he said it's the right thing to do, of course we all have compassion, but we also need jobs. And we need to get back on track again.... People need to get to work, and so we need to focus on that. It's just a diversion right now."

When asked whether she thought this would hurt Romney with Hispanic voters, she said, "I think people are smarter.... People pay attention, and they want to know what's going on with the economy. We need to keep asking him."

More from our Immigration archive: "Immigrants in Denver more likely to own small businesses than U.S. natives"

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Sam Levin
Contact: Sam Levin