Republican Party officials are drafting a tough platform on immigration for next week's national convention in Tampa, including support for a border fence with Mexico, stripping in-state tuition for illegal immigrants and an end to so-called sanctuary cities.
The platform, which would have to be ratified by delegates, comes at a time when both political parties are fighting for the critical votes of Hispanics - a battle that Democrats are winning so far.
The battle for the presidency between incumbent Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney is considered close enough that such votes could swing the election.
Romney endorsed a tough immigration stance during the GOP primaries this spring but has since distanced himself from the proposals.
The platform draft contains provisions that have been revived from the party's 2008 platform, and appear despite not being in a first draft of the platform that was coordinated with Romney's campaign.
The proposals are largely the brainchild of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and include a call on the federal government to build a new fence along the U.S.-Mexico border, no more in-state tuition help and curbs on sanctuary cities where immigrants are protected from being asked about their immigration status by police or local officials.
Another provision in the platform draft would mandate that local officials use a federal database that could verify an immigrant's eligibility to work in the U.S.
Kobach told the GOP platform committee on Tuesday that removing illegal immigrants from the workforce was one of the best ways to create new jobs for lawful U.S. citizens.
The Kansas official is also credited with authorship of tough new immigration laws in Alabama and Arizona. He told committee members the new provisions are consistent with Romney's beliefs as expressed during the primaries.
by RTT Staff Writer
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