Last night Governor Romney told the town hall debate attendees that he would not grant amnesty and that he was not going to round up the some 12 million undocumented people and expel them from the country. He also vaguely made reference to undocumented youth being able to earn a pathway to citizenship through military service, which is something he has talked about back in June at the NALEO conference. The GOP nominee also went on the charge against President Obama for failing to produce immigration reform legislation, which was an election promise back in 2008.
Immigration has been one area that Romney has tried to moderate his stance because of the extreme positions he took during the primaries, where he said that he would veto the DREAM Act, suggested that undocumented people self deport, called Arizona’s SB 1070 a model for the nation, and cozied up to Kris Kobach, the architect of SB 1070 style laws.
“We welcome legal immigrants into this country. I want our legal system to work better. I want it to be streamlined. … We’re not going to round up 12 million people, undocumented illegals, and take them out of the nation. Instead let people make their own choice. And if they find that that they can’t get the benefits here that they want and they can’t find the job they want, then they’ll make a decision to go a place where they have better opportunities.”
In saying that he would not have an amnesty or a pathway for the undocumented people already here in the US, Romney essentially defaulted back to his “self deportation” position.
Today Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D – Illinois) jumped on Romney’s words with this statement:
“Once again, Mitt Romney showed you can describe his immigration policy in two words: “get out.” Mitt Romney has no understanding of the importance of immigrants to our economy or appreciation for the need to keep families together. Mitt Romney was clear that 10 or 11 million immigrants will have to leave the country if he is elected, but the idea that so many millions of people will leave or be driven out of the U.S. is a fantasy. Mitt Romney’s views are dramatically out of touch with the common-sense policies that most Americans embrace when it comes to immigration. I urge every person who supports reasonable and fair policies that protect our borders, put people to work and keep families together to pay close attention to the extreme and unworkable views on immigration that Mitt Romney expresses again and again.”
In a press call today, Congressman Xavier Becerra (D – California) took Romney to task for saying that President Obama failed to deliver on immigration reform, “Let’s dispel this notion that the Democrats and the President did not do nothing. We (the House of Representatives) passed the DREAM Act in 2010, and the Senate passed the DREAM Act. But only because the Republicans insisted on using the filibuster did the DREAM Act not become law. With the Democratic majority, that law would have been the law of the land.”
In December 2010, the DREAM Act failed in the Senate 55-41, but five Democratic senators did vote against ending debate on the bill, which preventing it advancing. Only three Republican senators ended up supporting the bill.
In addressing the vagueness of Romney’s statement about undocumented youth and military service and how he skirted the DREAM Act issue, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez explained, “The GOP has categorized the DREAM Act as an amnesty…in the same breath, he said that he’s against amnesty.”