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Mitt Romney on Immigration

Former Republican Governor (MA)

GovWatch: 2005: Called comprehensive reform “reasonable”

Top Romney Flip Flops: #5. Immigration:

In a November 2005 interview with the Boston Globe, he described immigration reform proposal advanced by McCain as “reasonable.” He now denounces it as an “amnesty plan.” In December 2006, he signed agreement authorizing state troopers to round up illegal immigrants.

Source: GovWatch on 2008 campaign: “Top Ten Flip-Flops” Feb 5, 2008

Deport illegal immigrants in 90 days under the ideal setting

Q: You said that for a lot of illegal immigrants who are here, under your plan, we could deport many of them within 90 days. How could we do it that quickly?

A: My plan is this, which is for those that have come here illegally and are here illegally today, no amnesty. Now, how do people return home? Under the ideal setting, at least in my view, you say to those who have just come in recently, we’re going to send you back home immediately, we’re not going to let you stay here. You just go back home. For those that have been here, let’s say, five years, and have kids in school, you allow kids to complete the school year, you allow people to make their arrangements, and allow them to return back home. Those that have been here a long time, with kids that have responsibilities here and so forth, you let stay enough time to organize their affairs and go home.

Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

Found Z-visa & McCain-Kennedy bill to be offensive

The illegal immigrants are free to get in line with everyone else that wants to become a permanent resident or citizen. But no special pathway, no special deal that says because you’re here illegally, you get to stay here for the rest of your life. That’s what I found to be so offensive with the Z visa, which was in the McCain-Kennedy bill. It said to all illegal aliens, unless you’re a criminal, you’re all allowed to stay here for $3,000 for the rest of your life. And that’s a mistake. Let us have a fixed period of time--90 days for some, depending on their circumstances, others longer, to the end of the school year--even longer potentially. Do it in a humane & compassionate way, but say to those who have come here legally, you must return home, you must get in line with everybody else who wants to come here. There are millions throughout the world who want to come to this country legally. It’s a wonderful privilege. But those that have come here illegally should not be given a better deal
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

FactCheck: Yes, his ads DID accuse McCain of “amnesty”

Romney was wrong when he denied that his attack ads described McCain’s immigration bill as “amnesty” for illegal aliens. Romney said, “I don’t describe your plan as amnesty in my ad. I don’t call it amnesty. What I say is [that McCain’s policy is] what most people would say is a form of amnesty.”

In fact, Romney has been running an ad since Dec. 28 that says “McCain pushed to let every illegal immigrant stay here permanently” while Romney “opposes amnesty for illegals.”

Romney also released a Web ad on Jan. 4 that says “McCain supported this year’s amnesty bill.” And even as the debate was in progress, the Romney campaign sent out an e-mail saying, “Sen. McCain Still Won’t Admit He Supported Amnesty.”

We give credit to Romney for conceding during the debate that the McCain immigration bill “technically” would not have granted amnesty, which dictionaries define as a pardon. But Romney’s denial that his advertising accuses McCain of supporting “amnesty” rings hollow.

Source: on 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican debate Jan 5, 2008

Illegal immigrants should go home eventually

Q: Should illegal immigrants be sent home?

A: They should go home eventually. They should have a set period during which they sign up for permanent residency or for citizenship. But there’s a set period where upon they should return home. And if they’ve been approved for citizenship or for a permanent residency, well, it would be a different matter. But for the great majority, they’ll be going home.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Dec 16, 2007

No mandatory prison term for employers who hire illegals

Q: Would you be in favor of a mandatory prison term for any employer who hired an illegal immigrant?

A: Of course not. But here’s what I would do. I’d say once you’ve put in place an employment verification system--and that’s a big phrase to describe something pretty simple. I’d say to anybody who’s coming here legally, they get a card with their name, biometric information, a number and their work status, and you then say to employers, “If you want to hire someone that’s not a US citizen with a valid Social Security number, you ask for the card. You then verify it on the computer, and you can hire them if it’s a valid card if they have a card. If they don’t have a card and you hire them anyway, then you’re going to be subject to the same kind of sanctions you get for not paying your taxes.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Dec 16, 2007

AdWatch: Huckabee ok’ed tuition & scholarships for illegals

[TV ad airing throughout Iowa]:

ANNOUNCER: Two former governors. Two good family men. Both pro-life. Both support a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage. The difference?

Mitt Romney stood up, and vetoed in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Opposed driver’s licenses for illegals.

Mike Huckabee? Supported in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Huckabee even supported taxpayer-funded scholarships for illegal aliens.

On immigration, the choice matters.

Source: AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “The Record” Dec 13, 2007

FactCheck: Took hard-line on illegals, but only late in term

Romney’s Iowa TV ad portrays Romney’s immigration stance as hard-line compared with Huckabee’s. It’s true that a plan Huckabee supported would have granted in-state tuition rates and eligibility for scholarships to any student who had attended an Arkansa public high school for at least three years, regardless of immigration status. It’s also true that Romney vetoed a similar bill in 2004. But Romney’s illegal immigrant bashing is of fairly recent vintage.

In 2004, the Boston Globe reported that Romney was reluctant to veto the tuition proposal--and not at all the certain, sure-footed decision maker portrayed in the ad. At the time, Romney said, “I hate the idea of in any way making it more difficult for kids, even those who are illegal aliens, to afford college in our state.”

Romney wasn’t a hardliner on immigration until late in his tenure as governor. None of the specifics presented here are false, but the ad presents a black-and-white contrast that doesn’t exist in reality.

Source: AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “The Record” Dec 13, 2007

Welcome the people who have been standing in line first

Q: The majority are in favor of granting legal status to undocumented aliens if they meet certain criteria. If the majority supports that, why not support that idea?

A: You know, I have the occasion to talk to people who have loved ones that are hoping to come to this country, to be reunited with family members. And they’re staying in their home countries applying legally. I believe that those people ought to be the first ones to get to come to this country. Those who have come illegally, in my view, should be given the opportunity to get in line with everybody else, but there should be no special pathway for those that have come here illegally to jump ahead of the line or to be come permanent residents or citizens. They should be treated like everybody else who wants to come to this country. We’re going to protect legal immigration. At the same time, we’re going to enforce the law, show that we’re a nation of laws, and welcome the people who have been standing in line first.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

Employers have no means of knowing who’s legal & who’s not

Q: Some days ago you fired a company that used to take care of your landscaping because supposedly they were hiring undocumented workers. Did you report, officially, the people or the company to immigration authorities?

A: You know, we’re a very compassionate people. We’re also a people who follow the law. And the landscaper at my home is an old friend, and when he made a mistake the first time, I told him in no uncertain terms, you have to make sure that anybody that works on my property is legal. And he did his best, but he made a mistake. And apparently, two people he had there were not legal. And we terminated that relationship. And that became a big news story. But employers like this landscape company, and he’s Hispanic American, he doesn’t have a way to determine whether the people he’s hiring are legal or illegal. That’s why we need an employment verification system to identify the fact that legal aliens that come here are legal, are entitled to work.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

Avoid chain migration; disallow families from one citizen

Q: There are still millions of children that were born here that at least have one undocumented parent. Do these children have the right not to be separated from their parents?

A: The Constitution indicates that those that are born here do become US citizens by virtue of being born here. But if they’re born here from parents who come across the border illegally and bring them here illegally, in my view, we should not adopt, then, these chain migration policies that say, you’ve got a child here that’s a US citizen, and the whole family can come in. That, in my opinion, is a mistake. We are a nation of laws. We’re going to enforce the laws. We’re not going to cut off immigration; we’re going to keep immigration alive and thriving. But we’re going to end the practice of illegal immigration. It’s not inhumane. It’s humanitarian. It’s compassionate. We’re going to end illegal immigration to protect legal immigration.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision Dec 9, 2007

Illegal immigrants shouldn’t get tuition break in schools

Q: [With regards to how MA under your governership allowed sanctuary cities], will you continue to aid illegal aliens?

A: Let me tell you what I did as governor. I said no to driver’s licenses for illegals. I said, number two, we’re going to make sure that those that come here don’t get a tuition break in our schools, which I disagree with other folks on that one. Number three, I applied to have our state police enforce the immigration laws in May, seven months before I was out of office.

Source: 2007 GOP YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida Nov 28, 2007

FactCheck: Illegals employed at his home, but by contractor

Giuliani & Romney both stretched the facts when Giuliani accused Romney of employing illegal aliens at his home. Giuliani said, “At his own home illegal immigrants were being employed. So I would say he had sanctuary mansion, not just sanctuary city.” When asked if he did have illegal immigrants working at his mansion, Romney replied, “No, I did not.”

The fact is, as reported by the Boston Globe in 2006, several illegals worked at Romney’s home in Belmont MA, off and on over a period of eight years, sometimes working 11-hour days. They were, however, employed by a contractor, and not directly by Romney. So, Giuliani was technically correct to say that “illegal immigrants were being employed,” since he used the passive voice and didn’t specify who did the employing. Romney could also argue that he was technically correct to say “I did not” have illegals working, since he didn’t employ them directly.

Source: on 2007 GOP YouTube debate Nov 28, 2007

AdWatch: No driver’s license & in-state tuition for illegals

[Romney’s TV ad airing Nov. 1 in Iowa and New Hampshire]:

ROMNEY: We all know Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have it wrong on illegal immigration. Our party should not make that mistake.

As Governor, I authorized the State Police to enforce immigration laws. I opposed driver’s licenses & in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

As president, I’ll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities and secure our borders.

Legal immigration is great, but illegal immigration--that’s got to stop

Source: AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Immigration” Nov 9, 2007

FactCheck: MA state cops never enforced immigration laws

Romney claims in his TV ad that he put state troopers on the trail of illegals in his state. But he didn’t do so until he had less than a month left in his term. He was already considering running for president, and the new governor-elect was expected to rescind the arrangement.

Romney began talking about giving troopers the power to make arrests on immigration charges earlier in 2006, but he didn’t sign an agreement with the federal government--a necessary condition for that authority to be granted-- until Dec. 13, 2006. Romney was scheduled to leave office Jan. 4, 2007. Democrat Deval Patrick, who had won the race to succeed Romney, had already said the program was a “bad idea” because troopers were busy enough as it was.

Sure enough, Patrick rescinded the agreement within his first week in office so troopers could “focus on enforcing MA laws.” The policy never had a chance to take effect, because those troopers chosen to carry it out hadn’t yet begun a required 6-week training course

Source: AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Immigration” Nov 9, 2007

FactCheck: Took no action against 4 Mass. sanctuary cities

Romney promises in his TV ad, “As President, I’ll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities and secure our borders.” Romney might well get tough on sanctuary cities in the future, but he didn’t when he was governor.

During his tenure, at least f Orleans didn’t officially deem themselves “sanctuaries,” but Somerville affirmed its “long-standing policies in support of all immigrants,” while Orleans forbade city officials from turning in illegal immigrants without probable cause.

We asked Romney’s campaign if he had acted against these cities, but they didn’t provide us with any examples. As far as we were able to determine in our own research, Romney made no attempts to penalize, censure, or cut funding to them.

Source: AdWatch of 2007 campaign ad, “Immigration” Nov 9, 2007

Reduce federal funding to sanctuary cities

Q: [to Romney]: In recent weeks you have gone after Mayor Giuliani for running what you say was a sanctuary city for illegals. But as governor of Massachusetts, you did nothing to stop Cambridge & Somerville, which proclaimed themselves to be sanctuaries

ROMNEY: Governors aren’t responsible for mayors who are not following the law. And, actually, in my case, as soon as I learned about a program in the department of ICE that we could have our state police authorized to enforce the law, I did just that so that in sanctuary cities in our state--and nonsanctuary cities--the law would be enforced. But this is a place where Mayor Giuliani and I just simply disagree. I think we should reduce federal funding to cities that call themselves sanctuary cities. I think saying as he did, if you happen to be an undocumented alien, we want you in New York, we’ll protect you in New York, I think that contributed to 3 million illegals in this country becoming 12 million illegals coming into this country.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News Sep 5, 2007

Z-visa is not technically amnesty; but is in fact amnesty

Q: [to McCain]: How do you not call the circumstances of comprehensive immigration reform as an amnesty?

MCCAIN: Well, because amnesty, according to the dictionary, is forgiveness. The proposal that we had would require fines, would require back in the line, would require deportation for some. It would require an enormous amount of time, as long as 13 years, before anyone could even be eligible for citizenship in this country.

ROMNEY: First of all, the Z visa that was offered in that Senate bill let everybody who’s here illegally, other than criminals, stay here for the rest of their lives. And that may not be technically amnesty, but it is certainly amnesty in fact. [The magnet for illegal immigrants, besides] having amnesty, is saying to individuals, if you come here and you’re willing to work here and pay taxes, we’ll sign you up. That’s not the right message. We’ve got to enforce the law, welcoming legal immigration, but ending illegal immigration.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at UNH, sponsored by Fox News Sep 5, 2007

FactCheck: NYC never declared itself a “sanctuary city”

Romney continued his criticism of Rudy Giuliani for presiding over a “sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants. As we have noted before, New York City has never declared itself to be a “sanctuary city,” as some cities have. Romney refers to an executive order Giuliani renewed that prohibited city employees from giving the names of suspected illegal immigrants to federal authorities, unless doing so was required by law or the immigrant was possibly involved in criminal activity.
Source: on 2007 GOP debate at UNH Sep 5, 2007

Make America more attractive for legal immigrants

Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p.111 Aug 31, 2007

Priorities: secure border, employer verification, no amnesty

Source: The Man, His Values, & His Vision, p.111-112 Aug 31, 2007

Enforce the law against 12 million illegals here now

Q: What would you do with the 12 million illegal immigrants who are now in this country?

ROMNEY: Well, one is to enforce the law as it exists. The law that was passed in 1986 asked for us to secure the border & said also to put in place an employment verification system. Neither one of those was done. So let’s make sure that we enforce the law as it exists. And if you want to improve [the McCain reform] bill, take that Z visa and make it temporary, instead of a permanent right to stay in America.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Proposed Z visa allows illegal aliens to stay in America

Q [to Romney]: Sen. McCain has accused you of flip-flopping on immigration. McCain said: “Pandering for votes on this issue while offering no solution to the problem amounts to doing nothing, and doing nothing is silent amnesty.”

ROMNEY: My view is that we should enforce immigration laws. And this bill, unfortunately, has at least one provision that’s a real problem. It’s the Z visa. It allows people who’ve come here illegally to stay here for the rest of their lives. Not necessarily as citizens; they have to wait 13 years to become citizens. That’s not the point. The point is, every illegal alien, almost every one, under this bill gets to stay here. That’s simply not fair to get put ahead in the line of all the people who’ve been waiting legally to come to this country.

McCAIN: Our legislation does account for people who are here illegally, it does have an employment verification system, and it weeds out those who shouldn’t be here, and it gives others a chance to remain in this country.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Make English national language; communicate in Spanish too

Q: You’ve been accused of flip-flopping on immigration. You indicated that you’d want the national language of the US to be English. However, why are you airing ads in Spanish? Your campaign also provides a Spanish-speaking version of your website with your son also speaking in Spanish.

A: Let me make it real clear--I’m not anti-immigrant. I love immigrants. I love legal immigrants coming to our country. I’m happy to communicate to them, and I hope they vote for me. And I’m happy to have people all over the country, and I’m going to reach out to them in any language I can to have them vote for me and understand why I’m going to support making this a great land.

I very firmly believe that we have to make sure that we enforce our borders, that we have an employment verification system, and that those people who have come here illegally do not get an advantage to become permanent residents, they do not get a special pathway. That’s the problem I have with the bill the Kennedy-McCain bill.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

McCain’s plan gives special pathway to those here illegally

Q: You have also called Sen. McCain’s immigration plan amnesty. But you said, “Those that are here paying taxes and not taking government benefits should begin a process toward application for citizenship as they would from their home country.” Why isn’t that amnesty as well?

A: Well, my view is this. People should have no advantage by having come here illegally.

Q: But you’re not telling them to go home.

A: I am going to tell them to go home, but they start by beginning the process of applying for citizenship or applying for permanent residency. They’re not going to be barred from doing that, but they do not get any advantage by having come here illegally. That’s the key part of what I objected to in McCain-Kennedy, which said that people who are here illegally get a special pathway. My view, 1) secure the border; 2) have an employment verification system; and 3) say to those that are there illegally, get in line with everybody else.

Source: 2007 Republican Debate in South Carolina May 15, 2007

Keep rule barring immigrants from running for president

Q: Should we change our Constitution to allow men like Mel Martinez, born in Cuba, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, born in Austria, to stand here some night as candidates for president?

ROMNEY: Never given that a lot of thought, but with Arnold sitting there, I’ll give it some thought, but probably not.


HUCKABEE: After I’ve served eight years as president, I’d be happy to change the Constitution for Governor Schwarzenegger.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007

The 12 million illegal immigrants can’t stay forever

Q: Is it practical to take 12 million people and send them out of the country? A: The answer is no. Here’s how my plan works. One, it says to those 12 million people, they do not have the right to receive a Z visa, which was renewable indefinitely. That meant these people could stay in the country forever. That’s why talk radio and the American people went nuts. Z visa is renewable indefinitely. Every illegal alien got to stay in the country forever, other than those that committed crimes.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

Unfair to allow all illegal immigrants to stay

I disagree fundamentally with the idea that the 12 million people who’ve come here illegally should all be allowed to remain in the US permanently, potentially some of them applying for citizenship and becoming citizens, others just staying permanently. That is a form of amnesty, and that it’s not appropriate. We’re a nation of laws. Our liberty is based upon being a nation of laws. I would welcome those people to get in line with everybody else who wants to come here permanently. But there should be no special pathway to permanent residency or citizenship for those that have come here illegally. I welcome legal immigration. Of course we need to secure the border. We need to have an employment verification system with a card to identify who’s here legally and not legally. We need to have employer sanctions that hire people that then don’t have the legal card. But with regards to those already here, it is simply not right and unfair to say they’re going to all get to stay.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Republican primary debate Jan 5, 2006

Tuition breaks encourage illegal immigration

A bill to let children of illegal immigrants pay the same lower tuition rate at state colleges as other MA residents sparked a political sparring match between Democrats and the Romney administration. Romney chastised critics for advocating a bill he said would encourage illegal behavior. Romney said the state’s focus should be on helping legal immigrants. Giving children of illegal immigrants a tuition break would act as an incentive to draw in more illegal immigrants to Massachusetts, Romney said.
Source: Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press Writer Nov 1, 2005

Other candidates on Immigration: Mitt Romney on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010