Mitt Romney on Immigration

Former Republican Governor (MA); presidential nominee-apparent


Secure the borders; deport people here illegally

We're seeing unaccompanied young people, as well as families with lots of kids, pouring into the border. And they say the magic word, "I'm seeking asylum." We don't begin to have enough space in our facilities to maintain the kind of care that these people deserve. It's overwhelming our system. We can't have millions upon millions of people flooding into our country without a border that's secure, without ICE making sure the people that are here illegally are sent back.
Source: Meet the Press 2019 interview of 2020 presidential hopefuls , Apr 7, 2019

Reluctantly supports DACA, but need to crack down

[DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was] put in place by Pres. Obama and I believe we have a responsibility to fulfill what is a presidential pledge and commitment. I would provide legal status for those Dreamers in the country. But overall, we need to complete the border fence. We need to have a system that keeps people from getting jobs here if they're here illegally, and that's an e-verify system. And then we've got to deal with this asylum issue that's really overwhelming our system.
Source: Meet the Press 2019 interview of 2020 presidential hopefuls , Apr 7, 2019

Welcome legal immigrants, instead of message of exclusion

Much of Romney's Senate announcement video focused on Utah values versus the Washington culture. "Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in Washington," he said. "... Utah welcomes legal immigrants from around the world. Washington sends immigrants a message of exclusion. And on Utah's Capitol Hill, people treat one another with respect."

Trump has called for building a wall on the country's border with Mexico and limiting legal migration.

Romney said he thought Trump had the right idea about the Dream Act, which lets children of immigrants born in the United States remain in the country. "We have to recognize that we as a nation will honor the commitment made by a prior president. So I agree with the president (Trump). Let's find a way to have these people be able to stay in our country."

Romney also said he supported Trump's so-called four pillars of immigration and favored stronger border security and stopping chain migration and the lottery program.

Source: The Metro on 2018 Utah Senate race , Feb 16, 2018

Executive action on immigration is only a temporary solution

Q: The President says he may take unilateral action that will keep millions of people in this country.

ROMNEY: My advice to the Democrats--and to the President in particular--is: take a breath. The President said that he was not on the ballot in the election that was just held but that his policies were. And the American people sent a very clear message: they're not happy. The President ought to let the Republican Congress come together with legislation which relates to immigration. And he can veto it or not, as opposed to doing something unilaterally and in a way which is extra-constitutional. He's making it more difficult for there to be a permanent solution to this issue. What he's proposing to do is a temporary solution which would potentially be reversed by a Republican President. It's the wrong way to go. It doesn't help the people that are really are hurt by the lack of policy in this area. And it's going to set back the needed reforms that the American people want.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 16, 2014

OpEd: Far right immigration policy lost Hispanic vote

By sharply criticizing Texas governor Rick Perry for his in-state tuition program for certain children of illegal immigrants, and by making his leading immigration adviser a prominent proponent of "self-deportation," Mitt Romney moved so far to the right on immigration issues that it proved all but impossible for him to appeal to Hispanic voters in the general election. However little or much anti-immigration rhetoric counts in Republican primaries, it surely succeeds in alienating Hispanic voters come the general election. Although Romney eventually called for comprehensive immigration reform, a platform that hardened the party's stance on immigration hung like an anvil around his candidacy.
Source: Immigration Wars, by Jeb Bush, p.201 , Mar 5, 2013

Obama said he'd reform our immigration system but he didn't

When Obama ran for office, he said that he'd put in place, in his first year, he'd file a bill in his first year that would reform our immigration system, protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration. He didn't do it. He had a Democrat House, a Democrat Senate, supermajority in both Houses. Why did he fail to even promote legislation that would have provided an answer for those that want to come legally and for those that are here illegally today?
Source: Second Obama-Romney 2012 debate , Oct 16, 2012

Support the E-Verify portion of the Arizona immigration law

I did not say that the Arizona law was a model for the nation in that aspect. I said that the E-Verify portion of the Arizona law, which is the portion of the law which says that employers could be able to determine whether someone is here illegally or not illegally, that that was a model for the nation.
Source: Second Obama-Romney 2012 debate , Oct 16, 2012

Focus on reuniting families instead of diversity or DREAMers

Q: There are 1.7 million undocumented students that could benefit from deferred action [on deportation]. It would enable them to go to college, join the military, and get work permits.

A: Let me respond more broadly and then get to the specific of young people who were brought here through no fault of their own, and are now going to school here. The immigration system, I think we all agree, is broken and it's been a political football for years and years. It needs to be fixed. Also, instead of having our diversity visas offered, we provide instead the chance to pull families together. I want that to be the favored system for immigration. I also believe that we should have temporary work visas consistent with the needs of the employment community and by the way, if the student does so well that they get an advanced degree, I'd staple the green card to their diploma. For those young people who, for instance, serve in our military, that they should be able to become a permanent resident.

Source: Obama-Romney interviews by Univision Noticias (Spanish News) , Sep 19, 2012

Self-deportation: people make their own choice about leaving

Q: On Jan. 26 you told me that you were in favor of self-deportation. In a debate on Feb. 22 you said that you thought that the Arizona model was a model to follow.

A: I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home & that's what I mean by self-deportation. People decide if they want to go back to the country of their origin and get in line legally to be able to come to this country. Look, legal immigration is critical for America. I love legal immigration. But at the same time, to protect legal immigration we have to secure our borders and what I like about the Arizona law was the employment verification system.

Q: Should the whole country follow Arizona's immigration laws?

A: The reason there's an Arizona law is because the federal government, and specifically, Pres. Obama didn't solve immigration problem when he came into office. The right answer is ultimately to have a federal solution; [then] we don't have to have states trying to find solutions of their own.

Source: Obama-Romney interviews by Univision Noticias (Spanish News) , Sep 19, 2012

High-tech fence for 2,000 miles on Mexican border

Strategists generally agree that to win the White House a Republican nominee needs to secure 40% of the Latino vote, the portion George W. Bush won in 2004. 4 years later Republican John McCain got only 33% when he lost to Democrat Barack Obama.

But for Republicans seeking their party's nomination, the calculation can be different: it is more important to gain white working-class votes by staking out the position of being the toughest candidate on illegal immigrants than it is to court the ascending bloc of Latinos, whose influence registers mainly in the general election. So in the 2012 primary the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney promoted the idea of a high-tech fence stretching the entire length of the US-Mexico border, nearly 2,000 miles long.

Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p.221 , Jun 19, 2012

Poverty level of aspiring immigrant's nation is irrelevant

Romney criticized Trump in January following reports that the president used a derogatory term to refer to African countries during a White House meeting on immigration.

"The poverty of an aspiring immigrant's nation of origin is as irrelevant as their race," Romney tweeted on Jan. 15. "The sentiment attributed to POTUS is inconsistent w/ America's history and antithetical to American values."

Source: Bloomberg News on 2018 Utah Senate race , Feb 16, 2012

Enforce employment laws; illegal immigrants will self-deport

Q: [to Gingrich]:We heard from Gov. Romney, that self-deportation, or illegal immigrants leaving the country voluntarily, is a possible solution. You've suggested that self-deportation is "an Obama level fantasy."

GINGRICH: I actually agree that self-deportation will occur if you're single. I would just suggest that grandmothers or grandfathers aren't likely to self-deport.

ROMNEY: Those who come into the country legally would be given an identification card, and if employers hire someone without a card, then those employers would be severely sanctioned. If you do that, people who have come here illegally won't be able to find work. And over time, those people would tend to leave the country, or self-deport. I don't think anyone is interested in going around and rounding up people around the country and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants into America. Let's focus our attention on how to make legal immigration work and stop illegal immigration.

Source: CNN 2012 GOP primary debate on the eve of Florida primary , Jan 26, 2012

English should be the official language of the US

Q: Governor, you had an ad running saying that Speaker Gingrich called Spanish "the language of the ghetto." What do you mean by that?

ROMNEY: [to Gingrich]: Did you say that?

GINGRICH: No. What I said was, we want everybody to learn English. I didn't use the word "Spanish." We do not want anyone trapped in a situation where they cannot get a job, they cannot rise. And that's why I think English should be the official language of government, and that's why I think every young American should learn English.

ROMNEY: I think our position on English in our schools and in our nation is the same, which I believe English should be the official language of the United States. I also believe that in our schools, we should teach kids in English. I fought for a program to have English immersion in our schools so our kids could learn in English. I think we agree on this: Kids in this country should learn English so they can have all the jobs and all the opportunity of people who are here.

Source: CNN 2012 GOP primary debate on the eve of Florida primary , Jan 26, 2012

Alien employment cards ; not amnesty

GINGRICH [to Romney]: I don't see any reason to punish somebody who came here at three years of age. If you find people who have been here 25 years and have two generations of family and have been paying taxes and are in a local church, as somebody who believes strongly in family, you'll have a hard time explaining why that particular subset is being broken up and forced to leave.

ROMNEY: Look, amnesty is a magnet. What when we have had in the past, programs that have said that if people who come here illegally are going to get to stay illegally for the rest of their life, that's going to only encourage more people to come here illegally. I'm not going to start drawing lines here about who gets to stay. The answer is we're going to have a system that gives people who come legally a card that identifies them as coming here legally. Employers are going to be expected to inspect that card, see if they're here legally. On that basis we're going to be able to bring you to this country.

Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate , Nov 22, 2011

I don't believe in rounding up 11 million people

Before the 2008 campaign far under way, Romney had asserted that John McCain's and President Bush's approaches to immigration were reasonable. However, as a candidate he turned himself into a vehement critic of the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill. Romney tried to explain that his current position was consistent with his former one: "I don't believe in rounding up eleven million people and forcing them at gunpoint from our country. With these eleven million people, let's have them registered, know who they are," he told Russert. However, Romney noted that "for the great majority [of illegal immigrants], they'll be going home." He said they are welcome to "get in line" and argued that the United States should not create a special pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Source: An Inside Look, by R.B.Scott, p.145 , Nov 22, 2011

Current system is concrete wall against best & brightest

Romney on "Getting Immigration Right": "What you have to do in order to compete is reform our immigration laws to bring in more of the brains from around the world, eliminate the waste in our government. Immigration has been an important part of our nation's success. The current system, however, puts up a concrete wall to the best and brightest, yet those without skill or education are able to walk across the border. We must reform the current immigration laws so we can secure our borders and increase legal immigration into America."

Conclusion: Instead of transforming immigrants into the "bogeyman," he makes legal immigrants allies, major components in keeping the country competitive around the world. Under Romney, America could become known as the melting pot for the world's best and brightest, the still shining city on the hill.

Source: An Inside Look, by R.B.Scott, p.218 , Nov 22, 2011

Of course a border fence; of course no free tuition

Q: How do Republicans attract Latino voters?

SANTORUM: You attract Latino voters by talking about the importance of immigration & the importance of having English as the official language of this country. [But we need to finish the border fence].

HUNTSMAN: We can secure the border through means of fences, but the H1B visa process is broken.

ROMNEY: The question began by saying how do we attract Latino voters. And the answer is by telling them what they know in their heart, which is they or thei ancestors did not come here for a handout. If they came here for a handout, they'd be voting for Democrats. They came here for opportunity and freedom. And that's what we represent. And that's why we'll win collecting support from Latinos across the country. With regards to illegal immigration, of course we build a fence and of course we do not give instate tuition credits to people who come here illegally. That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America's great beneficence.

Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL , Sep 12, 2011

Build 2,600-mile fence with enough guards to secure it

Q: What would you consider enough to be able to declare the border safe?

A: Well, first, we ought to have a fence.

Q: The whole fence, 2,600 miles?

A: Yes. We've got to have a fence, or the technologically approved system to make sure that we know who's coming into the country, number one. Number two, we ought to have enough agents to secure that fence and to make sure that people are coming over are caught. But the third thing [is to address employers attracting illegal immigrants].

Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library , Sep 7, 2011

I like legal immigration; let business determine visas

Q: In 2008, you said you favored allowing American companies to hire more skilled foreign workers. With unemployment at 9.1%, are you still for importing more foreign labor?

A: Well, of course not. We're not looking to bring people in for jobs that can be done by Americans. But at the same time, we want to make sure that America welcomes the best and brightest in the world. If someone comes here and gets a PhD in physics, that's the person I'd like to staple a green card to their diploma, rather than saying to them to go home. I want the best & brightest to be metered into the country based upon the needs of our employment sector & create jobs by bringing technology and innovation that comes from people around the world. I like legal immigration I'd have the number of visas that we give to people here that come here legally, determined in part by the needs of our employment community. But we have to secure our border and crack down on those that bring folks here and hire here illegally.

Source: Iowa Straw Poll 2011 GOP debate in Ames Iowa , Aug 11, 2011

Immigration practices are upside down: more hi-tech visas

We should eagerly welcome individuals from other countries who are educated & experienced. But our current immigration policies do not. In order for some foreign students to come to America to earn a degree in physics, for example, they have to agree to LEAVE the US when their degree has been awarded. That doesn't make sense.

We follow the same deeply counterproductive course when we strictly limit the number of visas we award to scientists & technicians. If we want to continue to lead the world in innovation, we need the most intelligent & educated individuals. What we now do instead is strictly limit how long and how many highly skilled foreign applicants can be admitted and how long they can stay. At the same time, millions of people without these skills enter the country illegally. Our immigration practices are literally upside down. The best and the brightest wait in line to come here, but those with only little education are permitted to stay.

Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.123 , Mar 2, 2010

Ardent proponent of English immersion

Massachusetts once took pride in pioneering bilingual education. The concept made sense--many feared that foreign-language-speaking immigrant children would be left behind if they were thrust into a standard English-speaking classroom & English-speaking society.

There were a number of advocates that remained fierce defenders of bilingual education. In speaking to immigrant parents, I was surprised to learn that many of them had wanted their child to attend regular English-speaking classes.

I became even more ardent proponent of English immersion and sought to rapidly implement it throughout the state. Under the immersion program , recent immigrant children who spoke no or little English would initially receive instruction in their native tongue, but would be moved into English instruction as soon as possible, Time and again, I heard from parents in the immigrant community who applauded the decision to scrap bilingual education in favor of English.

Source: No Apology, by Mitt Romney, p.204-205 , Mar 2, 2010

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

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

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: FactCheck's 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

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: FactCheck on 2007 GOP YouTube debate , Nov 28, 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

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

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

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

Mitt Romney on Immigrant Benefits

Undocumented students get legal status by joining military

Q: What about deferred action on undocumented students?

A: My view is that we should put in a place a permanent solution. What the president did was take no action; he put in place something he called a stop-gap measure. Temporary. These kids deserve something better than temporary. They deserve a permanent solution.

Q: But, with all due respect, you are reluctant to provide details on a permanent solution? Are you going to deport the DREAMers or not?

A: Well, we're not going to round up people and deport them. That includes the kids and the parents. I would be in support of a program that said the people who serve in our military could be permanent residents. Marco Rubio's "Dream and Achieve Act" had a number of features that said kids that get higher education could become permanent residents. I will solve it on a permanent basis consistent with those principles.

Q: So you're going to allow them to stay?

A: I'm not going to be rounding people up and deporting them.

Source: Obama-Romney interviews by Univision Noticias (Spanish News) , Sep 19, 2012

Vetoed in-state tuition; turn off the magnet

Q: In Massachusetts, you vetoed legislation to provide interstate tuition rates to the children of illegals. Gov. Perry signed the Texas Dream Act to do exactly that, arguing that it's better to get these kids an education and to get them jobs than to consign them just to being a burden on the state.

ROMNEY: It's an argument I just can't follow, to go to the University of Texas, if you're an illegal alien, you get an in-state tuition discount. You know how much that is? That's $22,000 a year. Four years of college, almost $100,000 discount if you are an illegal alien. If you are a US citizen from any one of the other 49 states, you have to pay $100,000 more. That doesn't make sense to me. And that kind of magnet draws people into this country to get that education, to get the $100,000 break. It makes no sense. We have to turn off the magnet of extraordinary government benefits like a $100,000 discount for going to the University of Texas. That shouldn't be allowed. It makes no sense at all.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

Turn off the magnet that attracts immigrants

I learned this when I was with border patrol agents in San Diego, and they said, look, they can always get a ladder to go over the fence. And people will always run to the country. The reason they come in such great numbers is because we've left the magnet on.

And I said, what do you mean, the magnet? And they said, when employers are willing to hire people who are here illegally, that's a magnet, and it draws them in. And sanctuary cities, giving tuition breaks to the kids of illegal aliens, employers that knowingly hire people who are here illegally. Those things also have to be stopped.

If we want to secure the border, we have to make sure we have a fence, determining where people are, enough agents to oversee it, & turn off that magnet. We can't talk about amnesty, we cannot give amnesty to those who have come here illegally.

We've got 4.7 million people waiting in line legally. Let those people come in first, and those that are here illegally, they shouldn't have a special deal.

Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library , Sep 7, 2011

Attacked Arkansas program for scholarships for illegals

When the candidates debated in Michigan on October 9, 2007, and some offered upbeat assessments of the economy, Mike Huckabee dissented. "A lot of people are going to watch this debate. They're going to hear Republicans on this stage talk about how great the economy is," he said. "And frankly, when they hear that, they're going to probably reach for the dial. I want to make sure people understand that for many people on this stage the economy's doing terrifically well, but for a lot of Americans it's not doing so well."

He offered contrary views on trade and stood up for an Arkansas program that allowed the children of illegal immigrants to apply for college scholarships. When Romney attacked the program, Huckabee cut him down. "I'm standing here tonight because I got an education. If I hadn't had the education, I wouldn't be standing on this stage. I might be picking lettuce. In all due respect, we're a better country than to punish children for what their parents did."

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p.270 , Aug 4, 2009

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

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: FactCheck's 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: FactCheck's 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

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

Supports border infrastructure, according to CC survey.

Romney supports the CC survey question on border security

The Christian Coalition Voter Guide inferred whether candidates agree or disagree with the statement, 'Increase Border Security Including Additional Infrastructures ' Christian Coalition's self-description: "Christian Voter Guide is a clearing-house for traditional, pro-family voter guides. We do not create voter guides, nor do we interview or endorse candidates."

Source: Christian Coalition Surve 18CC-12 on Jul 1, 2018

Terminate national emergency at the Southern border.

Romney voted YEA Joint Resolution on Proclamation 9844

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 is hereby terminated.

Proclamation 9844 issued by the president on Feb. 15, 2019: Declares a state of national emergency at the southern border to address the issues of illegal immigration and criminal trafficking into the US: "The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis."

Opposing the Proclamation (supporting the Resolution), ACLU press release, 2/15/2019 The ACLU issued the following statement upon filing a lawsuit: "By the president's very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall 'faster.' This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy."

Legislative outcome Passed House 245-182-5 roll #94 on Feb. 26; pass Senate 59-41 roll #49 on March 14; Vetoed by Pres. Trump; veto override failed, 248-181-3 (2/3 required), roll #127 on March 26

Source: Congressional vote 19-HJR46 on Feb 26, 2019

Increase both high-skill and family-based visa caps.

Romney co-sponsored the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act

Legislative Summary:This bill increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from 7% of the total number of such visas available that year to 15%, and eliminates the 7% cap for employment-based immigrant visas. It also removes an offset that reduced the number of visas for individuals from China. The bill also establishes transition rules for employment-based visas from FY2020-FY2022, by reserving a percentage of EB-2 (workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability), EB-3 (skilled and other workers), and EB-5 (investors) visas for individuals not from the two countries with the largest number of recipients of such visas. Of the unreserved visas, not more than 85% shall be allotted to immigrants from any single country.

Explanation from the Countable.US: Under the current immigration system, immigrants from any one country can claim no more than 7% of the 140,000 employment-based green cards issued annually to foreign nationals working in the U.S. This significantly disadvantages immigrants from larger countries that more immigrants come from.

For example, China (population 1.3 billion) and India have large backlogs of workers wishing to immigrate to and work in the U.S., but they have the name visa caps as countries such as Iceland or Estonia (population 1.3 million), which have both much smaller populations and far fewer citizens seeking to immigrate to the U.S.

The net effect of this is that immigrants from India and China can face decades-long waits, averaging 2-3 times the wait times for immigrants from other countries, for green cards, and many have to return home because they can't get permanent residency; meanwhile, countries such as Iceland and Estonia never come close to reaching their visa limit caps.

Legislative outcome Roll call 437 in House on 7/10/2019 passed 365-65-2; referred to Committee in Senate 7/9/2019; no action as of 1/1/2020.

Source: S.386/H.R.1044 19-HR1044 on Feb 7, 2019

Other candidates on Immigration: Mitt Romney on other issues:
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