English-Language Learners

Mitt Romney’s Bilingual, Bicultural Cousins

By Lesli A. Maxwell — January 10, 2012 1 min read

By now, most everyone has heard how Mitt Romney’s family roots reach deep into northern Mexico, in the state of Chihuahua. Romney’s father, George, was born in Mexico, where his American citizen grandparents had earlier fled to avoid prosecution for polygamy. When George Romney was five, his parents moved the family to the U.S. to avoid the violence of the Mexican Revolution.

But another branch of the Romney family remained in Chihuahua, and its members have been bilingual, bicultural, and dual citizens of Mexico and the U.S. for years. The story about Mitt’s Mexican and American second cousins got high-profile treatment last night on Brian Williams’ show, “Rock Center”.

Reporter Mike Taibbi interviewed three of those cousins, who have grown up in Mexico and have raised their own families there in two small colonias in Chihuahua.

As a dual citizen who speaks both English and Spanish, cousin Leighton Romney tells Taibbi that he loves Mexico and the United States.

We certainly have a love for both countries," adds Leighton. "I can sing both national anthems, and tear up at both of them. I think that having two countries that you love and two countries that you can serve or be a beneficiary of their service is a great thing."

Given Romney’s position on the federal DREAM Act (he’s opposed), as well as the position he took as Massachusetts governor on bilingual education (he supported scrapping it), it would be fascinating to hear Romney talk about how or whether he considered his own family’s Mexican heritage as he formed his stances on immigration and language policy.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.