c) The targeted concession: Jonathan Alter suggests Romney try caving on the DREAM Act–
Suppose instead that Romney had talked tough on border enforcement but, like Gingrich, left the door open to working out a solution for the children of immigrants. (His current position of making allowances only for those who join the military satisfies no one.) A more vague position would hardly have cost him the Republican nomination. But it would have protected him against Obama clobbering him with the Dream Act in a debate.
Romney would probably count himself lucky if Alter’s solution– conceding DREAM–would nuke his Latino problem. In theory, DREAM only applies to a small portion of the illegal immigrant population (though Dems drafted it to cover as many as possible–up to 2.1 million by some estimates). It’s also the most appealing portion of that population–those brought here as minors through “no fault of their own.” That’s why amnesty advocates didn’t push DREAM for years–the DREAM kids were the poster children who were supposed to provide the emotional fuel to pass the much broader general amnesty for illegals. Only when that didn’t happen was DREAM made a standalone measure.
The fear among Latino activists, of course, is that if the DREAMers are legalized, the push to legalize the remaining, less appealing illegal population will fizzle out. It’s unlikely, then, that the activists will be bought off with just DREAM, especially a tightened-up version.