Romney’s trouble with Mormon Hispanics

An interesting group has emerged in opposition to Mitt Romney’s candidacy — Hispanic Mormons.

Media stories in recent days have addressed this twist. This one by Russell Contreras of the Associated Press, includes interviews with Hispanic members, including a bishop in Arizona, who talk about the Book of Mormon’s strong immigration themes. The story references, without being specific, 2 Nephi 1:6 in the Book of Mormon, which says, “…there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.”

(The AP account includes some strange stuff about “Lamanites” living in the American Southwest in the Book of Mormon, something a lot of Mormon scholars who have tried to pinpoint the book’s geography would certainly find interesting, if not amusing.)

This blog by ABC’s Matthew Jaffe references the AP story and adds a bit.

Both accounts note the LDS Church’s own statements on immigration.

Hispanic Mormons aren’t numerous enough to derail Romney’s candidacy. But his immigration stance, including his opposition to the DREAM Act, could hurt him among regular Hispanic Republicans overall, and that might have an effect.

As Jaffe notes, Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the voting population. An estimated 12.2 million of them are expected to vote in November. Not enough to turn an election, perhaps, but that day may be coming.

It’s frankly a bit tough to know how Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul could benefit or be hurt by the issue. None of them has an immigration stance particularly attractive to the Hispanic population.

For that matter, President Obama hasn’t done much on the issue, either, and it seems to have fallen off the radar screen a bit as the economy struggled.

That could change briefly as the GOP race goes to Arizona, where illegal immigration is front-and-center, an everyday issue.

Americans as a whole seem to be moderating on the issue. This Gallup poll, taken last month, shows 64 percent of Americans at least somewhat dissatisfied with current immigration levels, but that is down from four years ago.

When it comes to specifics about what the nation should do with illegal immigrants, however, 66 percent told a Fox News pollster they would support allowing them to apply for citizenship if they met certain requirements.

Being a hard-liner on immigration may not be the Republican requirement it once appeared to be, and it probably isn’t going to gain a candidate much in November. It has, however, given Romney some trouble with a core constituency he ought to have locked up.

Categories: Campaign 2012
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About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.


  1. Pagan

    The Problem?

    **’Campaigning Mitt Romney seldom notes Mexican roots’ – By Andriana Gomez Licon – AP – Published by DSNews – 01/26/11

    “His (Romney) father, George, was born in Mexico and his extended relatives still live in the same community…” – article

    Romney denies his hertiage.

  2. David

    There isn’t just one “Hispanic Vote,” so it’s best for everyone if candidates simply communicate as truthfully on this point as possible. Being Hispanic, I take strong exception to the idea that being Hispanic means I am in favor of illegal immigration and opposed to candidates who would enforce the rule of law. Being LDS, I also take exception to the idea that illegal immigration is somehow okay if you joined the Church as a result of coming to the U.S.

  3. Che

    There are immigrants, and then there are illegal immigrants. Romney isn’t against immigrants, he’s against breaking the law in a country that once believed in the Rule of Law and is trying to re-establish it.

    That’s what helps make this country so different from the rest. Just look at what has happened since the Rule of Law has been ignored the past 50-60 years.

    Wake up America!!

  4. Anti-BO

    If I were Mitt I would just wash my hands of this whole political mess in the US and retire. The US is lost – the people are mostly welfare want-to-bees with zero sense of who they are or where they came from. This is NOT your grand parents country for sure. Sad but true. I see us the same as Greece in less than 10 years. Bankrupt and burning cars in the street screaming for our non-existent entitlements.

  5. raybies

    I have a coworker that’s of Mexican descent. He said that Romney’s not a “real mexican”. When I pointed out that by his own standard if Romney’s father wasn’t a real mexican (a citizen by birth in that country’s native soil), then he wasn’t a real American–he was upset–but later conceded that he’d never thought it through. He admitted he’d been manipulated by the media.

    It’s clear that Mitt’s not the media darling. At every turn they’ve sought to cast a negative shadow on him and steal whatever appeal he might have to the classes of people they’ve decided to create as victims. Obama’s appeal to minorities is supposed to be his big thing–so giving Mitt even one particle of credit among them would be a huge hit against their golden boy.

    Clearly the media has bias to see that Mitt is not seen as anything other than a
    “White” (the only race that it’s okay to hate)
    “Rich” (okay to envy)
    “Mormon” (religion okay to hate)
    “Robotic” (not human, does not compute)
    “Picture-perfect” (won’t relate to you)
    “Man” (gender of evil).

  6. Legitimmigrant

    Not all Hispanics support illegal immigration. I am Hispanic and I am all in favor of the rule of law. It is sad to see some Hispanics trying to justify their coming to the US illegally by citing their own interpretation of the scriptures. As far as I know, no church leader has said illegal immigration is OK. If our immigration laws are not enforced, then why bother to play by the rules? It will just encourage more illegal immigration.

  7. Jonathan Eddy

    Maybe Mormon Hispanics are smart enough to see through the Romney facade; a man that has proven that he will say and do anything to remain in the limelight; add to his resume; ensure his egocentric legacy in the annals of history.

    Maybe Mormon Hispanics choose not to see Romney as the political chosen one just because he is a Mormon and that it is somehow their duty to support him for that reason alone.

    Maybe Mormon Hispanics are smart enough to recognize that Romney is constitutionally weak, just like most of his constitutionally uneducated voting block.

    Maybe Mormon Hispanics are smart enough to see someone like Ron Paul as the real man of the people; one not so wrapped up in self promotion; a man that considers it a honor to protect and defend the Constitution for the good of humanity.

    No, Romney’s troubles are not with intelligent Mormon Hispanics. Romney’s troubles are with Romney himself.

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