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BRIDGE BRIEFING: Romney Holds Outdated Views On Immigration

Romney Would Veto The DREAM Act

Mitt Romney Repeatedly Promised He Would Veto the DREAM Act. According to ABC News, “Mitt Romney explicitly stated today that if he is elected president he would veto the Dream Act, legislation that would give permanent residency to some illegal immigrants who met certain criteria, such as having proof that they entered the country before age 16 or having a graduated from a U.S. high school.” Romney repeated and defended his promise to the veto the DREAM Act in subsequent appearances, calling the DREAM Act a “handout.” Romney said: “I’ve indicated I would veto the DREAM Act.” He told a young woman questioning his position, ““I’ve said across the country, I would veto the DREAM Act.” [Huffington Post, 1/16/12; ABC News, 12/31/11; Crooks and Liars, 1/20/12; The Hill, 1/16/12; CNN, 1/5/12]

Romney Would Veto “The Dream Act.”  According to the Des Moines Register, “Romney said he would veto the ‘Dream Act’ if Congress passed it. The controversial proposal would open paths to legal residency for illegal immigrants who were brought into the country as children, stayed out of trouble and entered college or served in the military.” [Des Moines Register, 12/31/11]

Romney “Doubled Down” On Promise To Veto The DREAM Act. According to Huffington Post, “Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney doubled down on Monday on his opposition to the DREAM Act, a bill that would aid undocumented young people and that is heavily supported by the Latino community. ‘I’ve indicated I would veto the DREAM Act if provisions included in that act say that people who were here illegally — if they go to school here long enough, if they get a degree here — then they can become permanent residents,’ he said during a GOP debate in South Carolina, in response to a question about how his immigration views would play with Latino voters. ‘I think that’s a mistake.’ Romney previously said he would veto the bill to provide legal status to some undocumented immigrants as long as they came to the U.S. as children, kept a clean criminal record and either attended college or joined the military.” [Huffington Post, 1/16/12]

Romney Said Immigrants Are Looking For A “Free Deal”

While Speaking In Keene, New Hampshire, Romney Said That Many People Come To America “Looking For A Free Deal.” In September 2011, Mitt Romney told supporters in Keene, New Hampshire, “My own view is, you know, a lot of people just come here, or come across, or walk across the border, that have no skill, no education, and are looking for a free deal.” [Romney Town Hall, Keene, NH, 8/24/11] 

Romney Believed Illegal Immigrants Would Self-Deport

Romney Said He Favored “Self-Deportation” For Illegal Immigrants. According to the New York Daily News, “Romney was asked how he would address illegal immigration, and said he favored what he called ‘self-deportation.’ ‘The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here,’ Romney said. ‘We’re not going to round them up.’ When pressed for details on his concept, Romney proposed implementing a system in which the government would issue a card that links to online federal immigration data, so employers will know whether a job-seeker is undocumented. Those without cards would be pushed out of the job market and forced to leave the country, Romney reasoned. ‘If people can’t get work here, they’re going to self-deport to a place where they can get work,’ Romney said.” [New York Daily News, 1/24/12]

Romney Said A Lack Of Work Would Cause Undocumented Immigrants To “Self-Deport.” According to a transcript of the GOP debate in Jacksonville Florida, Romney was asked: “The few times and I think it was only once, that they experimented with self-deportation, only a handful of individuals voluntarily left. What makes you think that — that program could work?” He replied: “Well, you’ve just heard the last two speakers also indicate that they support the concept of self-deportation. It’s very simply this, which is for those who come into the country legally, they would be given an identification card that points out they’re able to work here and then you have an E-verify system that’s effective and efficient so that employers can determine who is legally here and if employers hire someone without a card, or without checking to see if it’s been counterfeited, 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 Americans — or, excuse me 11 million illegal immigrants into America.” [CNN, 1/26/12] 

Romney Stands With The Extreme Wing Of The Republican Party On Immigration

Romney Told Hispanics In Florida He Was “One Of” Them While Touting His Endorsement From Kris Kobach In South Carolina. According to Bloomberg News, “In Florida, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is airing campaign commercials in Spanish telling Hispanics he’s ‘one of us.’ In South Carolina, he is touting the endorsement of Kris Kobach, an anti- immigration activist who helped spearhead state laws that have sparked anger among Latinos.” [Bloomberg News,1/17/12]

Author Of Arizona’s Controversial Immigration Law Russell Pearce Praised Romney’s Immigration Stance As Identical To His. According to Washington Post, “Mitt Romney’s tough stance on illegal immigration during the 2012 campaign has won him the support of an influential conservative voice on the issue — Russell Pearce, the former Arizona state Senate president and author of the state’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law. In an interview Tuesday night after a tea party dinner in Gilbert, Ariz., Pearce – who, in part due to his authorship of the SB 1070 law, late last year became the first Arizona legislator to be ousted from office in a recall election – described the former Massachusetts governor’s stand on illegal immigration as the same as his own. ‘His immigration policy is identical to mine,’ Pearce said. ‘Attrition by enforcement. It’s identical to mine – enforce the laws. We have good laws, just enforce them.’” [Washington Post, 4/5/12]

Used Anti-Immigration Stance In Republican Primaries

Romney Attacked Gingrich’s Stance On Immigration, Which Gingrich Called “Totally Inaccurate.” According to Los Angeles Times, “Romney, whose status as the Republican front-runner is threatened by Gingrich’s rise, said that any form of amnesty — such as providing a path to permanent legal residence, as the former House speaker advocated — would become ‘a magnet’ for others to enter the country illegally. ‘That will only encourage more people to do the same thing. People respond to incentives,’ the former Massachusetts governor said. ‘If you could become a permanent resident of the United States by coming here illegally, you’ll do so.’ Gingrich, who has said he deserves to get heightened scrutiny in his newly prominent role, avoided the media-baiting tactics he often employed in past debates and was measured in his responses. Interviewed immediately afterward on CNN, which televised the event, he said it was ‘totally inaccurate’ to describe his position as an ‘open door to illegal immigrant amnesty,’ as Michele Bachmann’s campaign charged in a release emailed to reporters during the debate.” [Los Angeles Times, 11/23/11]

Romney Released A Campaign Ad Attacking McCain For Supporting Amnesty But Denied The Ad’s Claim In A GOP Debate And Said He Had Not Seen His Own Ad. According to ABC News’ World News Sunday, “You know, Mitt Romney is nursing a cold, but to a certain extent, he is also licking his wounds. But today, his campaign is trying to turn the withering attacks from last night’s debate into a political positive today… But Romney also had to answer some questions about his own debate performance, and attack ads on John McCain’s immigration plan. Last night, he said… Mitt Romney: I don’t describe your plan as amnesty in my ad. I – I don’t call it amnesty… That’s wrong. He does… Commercial Voiceover On immigration, McCain supported this year’s amnesty bill, higher taxes, amnesty for illegals. Clip from ‘This Week’ George Stephanopoulos (ABC NEWS) Had you not seen your own ad? Mitt Romney: I hadn’t seen that one… (Voiceover) McCain’s plan does call for penalties on illegal immigrants. But nevertheless, Romney was back on the stump today, calling it amnesty. Mitt Romney: In my opinion, that’s a form of amnesty. In my opinion, that is wrong. That will only encourage more illegal immigration. It’s time to stop illegal immigration.” [ABC News Transcript, 1/6/08]

In 2007, Romney Attacked Huckabee For Supporting In-State Tuition Benefits For The Children Of Immigrants. According to New York Times, “Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign plans to begin running a negative television advertisement today in Iowa highlighting Mike Huckabee’s record on immigration, escalating the warfare between the two Republican candidates as they scramble for support in the nation’s first nominating state. The advertisement starts by saying both men are ‘good family men’ who oppose abortion. But then it says that Mr. Huckabee, as governor of Arkansas, supported in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants and taxpayer-financed scholarships for illegal immigrants… A spokesman for the Huckabee campaign, Joe Carter, said of the advertisement: ‘We’re just kind of disappointed that he’s taking this kind of approach. We’d just ask people to compare our proposal on immigration and his, and our record on immigration and his.’” [New York Times, 12/11/07]

Romney Employed Undocumented Immigrants To Landscape His Lawn

Romney Said “I’m Running For Office, For Pete’s Sake, I Can’t Have Illegals.” According to CBS News, “Romney, who was criticized for this incident in the 2008 presidential race, responded that he fired the gardeners after he found out about their immigration status. ‘We went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property,’ he said. ‘I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.’” [CBS News, 10/19/11]

Romney Employed A Lawn Care Company That Regularly Hired Undocumented Immigrants. According to New York Times, “The Boston Globe first reported in December 2006 that Mr. Romney was employing a lawn care company that regularly hired illegal immigrants. Mr. Romney said he told an illegal immigrant working on his property to leave but continued to use the same lawn service company. A year later, The Globe reported that the service had once again sent illegal immigrants to Mr. Romney’s house in Belmont, Mass. On the same day as the Globe report was published, Mr. Romney fired the company. At that time, Mr. Romney said he had continued to use the same company because the company had guaranteed that it would not hire any illegal immigrants. In Tuesday’s debate, Mr. Romney said he would combat illegal immigration by adopting a nationwide electronic program to verify the immigration status of all new hires.” [The New York Times, 10/18/11]