Three Hispanic leaders in South Florida are condemning Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his attacks on the proposal being weighed in Congress that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain legal status.
Sergio Massa, Nora Sandigo and Jose Lagos of the non-partisan Latin American Voters League all issued written statements.
"As Mitt Romney tours our diverse and great state of Florida he should know better that his efforts to reinvent his position on immigration reform will definitely hurt his chances of reaching out to a significant voter bloc in our state," said Massa, the league's president.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has been accused of retreating from previous statements in which he seemed to support allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. He told the Lowell Sun in 2006 that "those that are here paying taxes and not taking government benefits should begin a process towards application for citizenship, as they would from their home country."
Romney is hosting an "Ask Mitt Anything'' forum today in Jacksonville, which has a small Hispanic population. He is also speaking to the Polk County GOP in Lakeland.
Sandigo, the league's director, noted that Romney's stance is at odds with some of Florida's most prominent Republicans, who support allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. She said: "Whether it has been the successful elections of (former) Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Charlie Crist or President George W. Bush, our state has consistently proven that we support leaders who will approach this issue in a creative, reasonable, realistic and compassionate manner, and Mitt Romney's position is unfortunately inconsistent."
The Miami Herald reports today that the former governor said he was "disappointed'' in Romney's position. Bush told the St. Petersburg times that's not true. The Herald stands by its story.