NORFOLK, VA - AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) announces Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (R) as his running mate in front of the USS Wisconsin August 11, 2012 in Norfolk, Virginia. Ryan, a seven term congressman, is Chairman of the House Budget Committee and provides a strong contrast to the Obama administration on fiscal policy. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)2012 Getty Images
Chicago – Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta and other activists on Thursday criticized the "extremist positions" of the Romney-Ryan Republican presidential ticket against immigration reform and the DREAM Act, which would grant permanent residence to qualified undocumented youth.
The immigrant community should view "with great sadness, repudiation and even fear" the content of the Republican platform regarding immigrants, said Gutiérrez in a conference call with Hispanic reporters.
Huerta called the efforts of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, as an advisor to Mitt Romney, to include measures against immigrants in the platform that will be presented at the GOP convention next week a "war on immigrants."
"We were hoping for a change in tone" on Romney's part, but the Republicans "have demonstrated that they have no room for us," said Cesár Vargas, an undocumented immigrant and cofounder of the "DREAMers" organization DRM Capitol Group.
Those young people stopped being immigrants a long time ago. They are Americans, but (the Republicans) want to treat them as if they were from another planet.
- Illinois Rep. Luis Gutiérrez
The participants in the conference call said it was at the urging of Kobach, widely seen as the architect of anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama, that the Republican platform committee decided to include a call to complete the wall along the border with Mexico as well as to express opposition to letting undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.
Gutiérrez said that states like Illinois, Texas and California had agreed to charge the same tuition to students who are state residents without regard for their immigration status.
For the Republicans to say they are going to eliminate that study possibility is "inhumane," he said.
"Those young people stopped being immigrants a long time ago. They are Americans, but (the Republicans) want to treat them as if they were from another planet," he added.
The Democratic Party, meanwhile, is experiencing "a time of hope" with President Barack Obama's executive order to defer deportation of the kind of young undocumented immigrants who would benefit from the DREAM Act, Gutiérrez said.
He emphasized the workshop held Wednesday at Chicago's Benito Juárez High School, where 400 undocumented young people filled out Deferred Action request forms.
Vargas, who arrived in the United States at the age of 5 and just graduated from law school, said that he and the other DREAMers are not looking for handouts but rather opportunities.
"My story is the one of many young people who participated in this process. I want to keep studying to become a lawyer and represent my community," he said.
Huerta said that she is sad about the move backward that the Republican proposals would mean, in particular because the contribution of immigrants would be ignored.
"They want to move us backwards, forgetting that they were also immigrants. With their discriminatory actions they're showing that they don't know history," she said.