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Romney’s ‘Self-Deportation’ Solution at GOP Debate Shows a Candidate Out of Touch by Lili Gil for Fox News Latino

After a heated opening between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney over capitalism and Freddie Mac consulting at the NBC Florida debate, surprisingly the night’s most memorable moments took place when Latino matters surfaced.

Just in time to resonate with 22 percent of Floridians who are Latinos and the 1.2 million Cubans who reside in Florida, Fidel Castro’s fate of heaven or hell was the only moment that woke up this lifeless audience. Gingrich said: “I don’t think Fidel will meet his maker. I think he’s going to the other place.”

But by far the the most memorable and the oddest moment was Romney’s brilliant solution to immigration: self-deportation.

Immediately, a flood of live tweets from viewers, political insiders and Latino influencers jumped to criticize his confusing answer.

When asked about the process to send people home, Romney’s solution left the audience intrigued, speechless and confused. “The answer is self-deportation (with some remote laughter on the background) When they don’t have work or documents they will go back home…Ultimately we will then allow people to get back in line at home until the reach the front of the line,” Romney said.

Can Romney Get the Latino Votes He Needs?

The line? What line? One tweet from @AlxWindyCity said “hahaha…I’m, sure there is a line forming as we speak”  Also a sympathetic Rick Santorum was quick to describe how his parents and grandparents were able to “follow the process,” which was completely different from today’s bureaucratic and limited process to follow for those wishing to “get in the line.”

Is there a process for those who graciously self-deport so they can get into “the line” back at home? No, which highlights Romney’s ignorance on the issue. As a naturalized citizen who had to make sense of “the process,” it is disappointing to see GOP candidates so out-of-touch with the true complexities of the current immigration process. 

Ever wondered what the path to citizenship is? Let the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) answer the question for you: After a basic requirement of being over 18 years of age, the U.S. government requires you to be a green card holder for five years! So, how do you get a green card if you want to “get in the line?” Three or four clicks later and the USCIS website then takes you to a long list of green-card application forms that basically can be summarized as the following:  A. be the child of a U.S. citizen, B. marry a citizen, C. be a refuge and/or D. qualify for the limited and convoluted job, entrepreneur or investor options. 

Did you know that someone who comes into this country “legally” with a student visa has virtually no clear path or option to become “legal” after graduating from his college, masters or PhD? Note, these are not DREAMers (DREAMAct candidates), but “legal” immigrants who are stuck in limbo…

The issue is complex, and clearly Romney’s self-deportation strategy confirmed his lack of a strategy all together. And, while entertaining, immigration may not be the only winning card to get to the hearts of a diverse Latino population in Florida, which is dominated by Cubans in south Florida and Puerto Ricans in central Florida. 

Why does this matter anyway? Because in 2008, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, President Barack Obama won 57 percent of Florida’s Hispanic vote, while 42 percent went to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), making Florida the first of many more battlegrounds like Nevada, Colorado and Arizona where Latinos could represent the winning difference for the GOP in their race to the White House.

Lili Gil is an award-winning business and Hispanic market expert and business and political media contributor. She is also co-founder and managing partner of XL Alliance a business strategy and marketing firm dedicated to help business leaders and corporations navigate and enter emerging multicultural markets. Gil was recently selected by the World Economic Forum as one of only 190 Young Global Leaders identified across 65 countries for her leadership, community and business impact. You can follow Lili on twitter @liligil

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/01/24/en-serio-romneys-brilliant-solution-to-immigration-is-self-deportation/#ixzz1lEU5i5iM

Newt Gingrich: A Smart Play to Win Over the Latino Vote?

AS Published by Fox News Latino

By Lili Gil, Media Contributor, Hispanic Market Expert, Cofounder XL Alliance

As I tuned in to write this opinion piece about the Republican National Security Debate, I was ready to jot down perspectives surrounding Afghanistan, terrorism, Israel and wars… While those were eloquently addressed by the candidates, my heart, attention and voter-gears shifted unexpectedly when Newt Gingrich set the stage on Immigration.  Unexpected and hopeful statements like: “I do not believe that citizens of the U.S. would take people that have been here for a quarter of a century, separate them from their families and expel them”, said by Gingrich, or practical comments like “I’ll staple a green card to the diploma of any immigrant who gets a masters degree” by Romney; gave me goose bumps as I watched closely a topic that has personally torn me as a naturalized citizen and voter who finds herself struggling between parties. While I share deeply the value system of a conservative mindset, the traditional draconian perspectives on immigration had kept me floating in the middle with no real political loyalties…until today…

A topic typically perceived by Latinos as the GOP’s Achilles’ heel became a shining moment for the party. To date, this was the very first debate that demonstrated a genuine acknowledgement and approach that supports the DREAMAct and emphasizes the importance of keeping families united. Could this be THE crucial moment that finally demystifies the party and opens doors for Latinos to listen closer and get engaged with the Republican Party?

The financial crisis, unemployment and leadership frustrations with the current administration serve as a perfect storm to gain momentum. As I mentioned after an earlier debate in October, The GOP has a Golden Opportunity to Win over the Latino Vote, and it seems someone, somewhere, has finally started paying attention to the fastest growing segment and largest minority group in the U.S. that could put them in the white house.  

As I mentioned in my previous OpEd, in 2008, Hispanics’ 2-to-1 support for Barack Obama’s presidential bid was credited with making the difference in four crucial swing states: Florida, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Also, it is estimated that 21.5 million Latino citizen adults will be eligible to vote in November 2012, up from 19.5 million in 2008. According to 2010 census data, there are 118 existing congressional districts in which more than one-fifth of the population is Hispanic. That is up from just 28, according to 2000 census data, as applied to 110th Congress districts. Furthermore, 93 of those districts are in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, the four states with the most 2012 electoral votes.   Florida is a crucial swing state, alongside Colorado and Nevada, which have seen 41.2 percent and 81.9 percent growth in the Hispanic population, respectively, since 2000. The opportunity becomes even more evident given that only 1 in 3 Hispanic voters strongly approves of the President, suggesting his popularity among a constituency that were among his most ardent backers in 2008 is softening. In addition, 53 percent of Hispanic registered voters indicated that they are less enthusiastic about President Obama now than they were in 2008. 

You don’t need an economics or math degree to realize that the opportunity is real, sizable and could mean the difference for the Republican party in this election.

What were the hopeful shining moments of the debate, which could potentially win over the million of Latino voters that were possibly “floating in the middle” like me? Here are the highlights from a very different tone set primarily by former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.

  • “We ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science or engineering, so that people stay here…Einstein came here as an immigrant”, Gingrich
  • “I think you’ve got to deal with this as a comprehensive approach… You’ve got to find some system, which includes a guest worker program…” Gingrich
  • “If you’ve been here for 25 years you have 3 children and 2 grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes, obeying the law and belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from the family”, Gingrich
  • Addressing a sticky point that lies within the DREAMAct, Gingrich was clear in supporting that undocumented children who serve in the military have a process to acquire citizenship. “I don’t see any reason to punish anyone who came at three years of age but who wants to serve the United States of America”, said Gingrich
  • “This is a party that loves legal immigration”, Romney
  • “I do not believe that the people of the U.S. would take people that have been here for a quarter of a century… separate them from their families and expel them”, Gingrich
  • “I don’t see how the party that says is the party of the family, is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here for a quarter of a century, and I am prepared to take the heat for saying ‘let’s be humane’ in enforcing the law, without giving them citizenship, but finding a way to create legality so they are not separated from their families”, Gingrich.

Great job and felicitaciones to el Señor Gingrich, who set the stage for a potential new wave of “LatiNewts” following! Your sound perspectives, compassion, and common-sense approach could mean the difference not only to secure your win as the Republican nominee, but also that of  an important (and very influential) community…which could ultimately result in winning the White House

Lili Gil is an award-winning business and Hispanic market expert and business and political media contributor. She is also co-founder and managing partner of XL Alliance a multicultural strategy and marketing firm dedicated to helping business leaders navigate and enter emerging markets. Gil was recently selected by the World Economic Forum as one of only 190 Young Global Leaders identified across 65 countries for her leadership, community and business impact. You can follow Lili on twitter @liligil

A Vegas Style Boxing Match at the Republican Presidential Debate | By Lili Gil

2011-10-19-politics-RomneyPerryCNNDebate.jpg In a town famous for the most entertaining boxing matches in history, the Venetian in Las Vegas was the perfect stage to host a heated Western Republican Presidential Debate that resulted in more upper-cuts than a heavyweight title fight. Counter punching might have brought Perry back to life, left Romney with some bruises and made Cain smile and throw a few counter-punches of his own. . What about the others? They each displayed a few good punches and, in many cases, lost points with some low blows. Is this spirit of contention the road to the white house? Let’s recount the top 4 most memorable moments of the most controversial and aggressive debates so far:

1. Putting Cain on the Ropes 9-9-9 sparked major debate which may or may not have helped Cain. However, while under attack Cain remained calm and, at times, even funny in his mano a mano with the other candidates. “Herman, I love you brother, but your plan will put sales taxes on states that don’t have it” — like New Hampshire, which just happens to hold the nation’s first primary. “I’ll bump tax plans with you, brother,” Perry says; which was countered with a little humor and analogies of apples and oranges by Cain. 9-9-9, while an easy sound bite left many unanswered questions as republican rivals picked apart the details. Still, Cain’s non-political, straight-to-the-point, solutions-minded approach appears to be resonating with republican voters.

2. Romney’s Corner Comes with Credibility Questions Consistent with the last debate, Obamacare was put in question, which resulted in a spotlight on Mitt Romney’s healthcare history, bringing his famed Massachusetts health care reform plan - dubbed “Romneycare” to the forefront . Ron Paul said the government needs to get out of health care. Herman Cain said he wouldn’t keep any of Obamacare, calling it “a disaster”. The conversation continued with Rick Santorum attacking Mitt Romney over his Massachusetts health care plan and its stark similarities to the Obama’s federal program, saying “you just don’t have credibility”. But his attack was quickly forgotten with the exchange that followed…

3. A Feisty Rick Perry Comes Out Swinging! Perry was energetic, decisive, direct and more robust than ever before. Definitely the most memorable and shocking movement was his feisty immigration animosity, accusing Romney of lying to the public about hiring illegal immigrants. Certainly a clip likely to get thousands of views on YouTube - where Perry and Romney go blow-for-blow in an all-out battle for the microphone. Romney and Perry caught themselves talking over each other, making personal remarks that questioned their presidential appeal. Was this the right move to bring Perry back to the top? Or was this an unfortunate moment that made both him and Romney look less presidential than ever… a moment that turned the boxing match into a mud wrestling battle. Still too close to call, this one may need to go to the judges scorecards…

4. A Big Right Hook that Misses the Mark with Latinos A moment to connect with the fastest growing minority group in the U.S. turned into a missed opportunity. Instead of acknowledging the need for an integrated approach to immigration, a Short-sighted discussion of building fences, double-walled fences and electrified fences lead to a condescending path that ended nowhere! Are Republicans ignoring the 67% of Latino voters that supported Obama? Let’s recount the numbers; swing states like Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado are all over 20% Hispanic. A myopic approach to immigration is impacting their ability to connect at a broader level with this community. Debates are An Opportunity to Win Over the Latino Vote and unfortunately this debate missed the opportunity badly. Beyond immigration, registered Latino voters care about education, jobs and healthcare too. At 8:54pm, in an effort to take the Hispanic conversation out of the stereotypical corner, a Hispanic man in the audience points out that not all Hispanics are illegal immigrants — what about the American citizens. A millisecond of hope came through from candidates like Newt Gingrich who said “Hispanics deserve the same opportunities as all Americans.” Ron Paul said “the solution to the immigration issue is a better economy”…probably one of the simplest and deepest comments on the topic ironically coming from an ultra conservative like Paul. But this round goes to Rick Santorum who scored a knockout punch with his sincere share of respect in recognizing the importance of faith and family for Latinos. This one-liner was the strongest and most genuine emotional connection shared by a Republican candidate in addressing Latinos. By getting to a core point of relevancy, Santorum’s response earns him an “A” for going beyond the stereotypical immigration issue and taking time to acknowledge an insight that hits home. So, who has emerged? Was this a make or break debate for Romney, Cain, Perry, others? Unfortunately this match was tainted by personal attacks that poorly reflect on the party as a whole and left the GOP with a black eye as opposed to a title belt. Breaking Regan’s eleventh commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” has possibly left the Obama team celebrating. For the GOP’s sake, let’s hope that what happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. The winner of this fight was the Democrats.

Lili Gil is an award-winning business and Hispanic market expert, media/ TV contributor and host of the online show Moments2CulturRise. She is also co-founder and managing partner of XL Alliance a cross-channel marketing strategy organization dedicated to helping business executives maximize their efforts into profitable growth. Gil was recently selected by the World Economic Forum as one of only 190 Young Global Leaders identified across 65 countries for her leadership, community and business impact.