Susana Martinez is bad on immigration, supports amnesty and a DREAM Act plan (Mitt Romney, New Mexico)

New Mexico governor Susana Martinez appeared to be somewhat OK on immigration in the past: she opposed drivers licenses for illegal aliens and the DREAM Act.

However, recent statements show she's more on the George W Bush side of things ([1]). Comments follow the excerpt:

[Immigration is] a topic she has been reluctant to discuss since winning the Republican primary in 2010, so what comes next is surprising: a battle plan that contradicts nearly everything the GOP has been doing and saying since 2007, Romney's "self-deportation" strategy included. "'Self-deport?' What the heck does that mean?" Martinez snaps. "I have no doubt Hispanics have been alienated during this campaign. But now there's an opportunity for Gov. Romney to have a sincere conversation about what we can do and why."

Naturally, Martinez has some suggestions. First, Republicans should remind Latinos that Obama pledged to pass comprehensive immigration reform by the end of his initial year in office, but "didn't even have the courage to try." Next, the GOP should outflank the president--on the left--by proposing its own comprehensive plan. "I absolutely advocate for comprehensive immigration reform," Martinez says, , sipping a caramel macchiato. "Republicans want to be tough and say, 'Illegals, you're gone.' But the answer is a lot more complex than that." Martinez envisions an approach "with multiple levels": increased border security; deportation for criminals; a guest-worker program for people who want "to go freely back and forth across the border to work"; a DREAM Act-style pathway to citizenship, through the military or college, for children brought here illegally by their parents; and a visa (coupled with a "penalty" or a "tagback") that allows rest of the illegal population to remain in the U.S. while they follow standard naturalization procedures.

Martinez's point is not that Republicans should peddle so-called "amnesty." In New Mexico, she's taken a lot of heat from Latinos for repeatedly pushing to repeal a state law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses; she also opposes a standalone DREAM Act, arguing that politicians can't "fix [immigration] by saying, 'Here's the DREAM Act and we're done. It has to be part of a larger plan." She simply believes that a more pragmatic approach will help Republicans in the long run, particularly if it's paired with the sort of issues-based appeal that inspired her to switch parties and a more aggressive campaign to recruit Hispanic candidates for local office. Maybe then the GOP can finally do what she did in her first statewide contest: approach the magic 40-percent mark among Latino voters. That alone would be enough to swing a presidential election.

She's obviously no Tom Tancredo: more like Bush, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Newt Gingrich, and a host of others who would ultimately serve the interests of the Democratic Party. That's why she's being promoted as a potential Mitt Romney VP pick in Newsweek: they aren't in the habit of giving the GOP good advice.

Her confusion about "self-deport" is not a good sign about her ability to figure things out or to keep up on current events. Millions of illegal aliens have "self-deported" over the years, and many have done so recently due to the economic downturn. See attrition for a discussion of that plan and examples of the establishment admitting it works.

Martinez is also lumping all Hispanics together rather than admitting that what applies to her (humble origins, ancestors from Mexico) might not apply to those from Cuba and other countries. That's expected from those like Andrew Romano, but from someone like Martinez it may indicate pan-Hispanic sentiments similar to those of Bill Richardson or the National Council of La Raza.

Regarding her plan, supporting comprehensive immigration reform (aka amnesty) is bad policy as described at the link. It's also bad politics: she'd validate the Democrats on that issue. If her goal is to appeal to Hispanics with amnesty, all the Democrats need to do to go after the same market is offer an even worse (for the U.S.) amnesty plan. The thing to do is to show how amnesty is wrong, not validate the Democrats on that issue.

Martinez also wants to secure the border (in the "first" sense as discussed at the link). She wants to deport criminals, without explaining how she would deport hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and without explaining why it is that she could deport them but not deport non-criminal illegal aliens. She wants a guest worker program; see the link. Her "guests" going "freely back and forth across the border to work" sounds like a plan Bush or Rick Perry would envision.

Her current opposition to the anti-American DREAM Act isn't because it would take college educations away from Americans, but simply that it isn't part of a comprehensive bill.

And, her version of that comprehensive "reform" would have a touchback component (the more common term for what she calls "tagback"). For past discussion of the Flake-Gutierrez amnesty that contained such a component, see the entries for Luis Gutierrez and Jeff Flake around 2007 and the STRIVE Act posts.

Please encourage experienced questioners to go to Martinez' events and use the Question Authority plan to ask her tough questions on video. Those questions can be based on the above or on these questions.

[1] "Susana Martinez: What New Mexico's Governor Can Teach the GOP",
susana-martinez-what-new-mexico-s-governor-can-teach-the-gop.html, by Andrew Romano of Newsweek (appearing in the Daily Beast). Romano is quite a piece of work, as might be discussed in a future post.