Mitt Romney on Immigration
Former Republican Governor (MA)
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.
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.
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].
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ROMNEY: Never given that a lot of thought, but with Arnold sitting there, I’ll give it some thought, but probably not.
Gov. THOMPSON: No.
HUCKABEE: After I’ve served eight years as president, I’d be happy to change the Constitution for Governor Schwarzenegger.
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