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Mitt Romney wimps out on immigration, again (Univision, "our system isn't to deport people")

Yesterday, Mitt Romney was interviewed on Univision by Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas; a transcript of his answers about immigration is below.

If you're a foreign citizen - whether here legally or illegally or planning on moving here legally or illegally - Romney's comments were great. If you're a business that wants a large labor pool with lower wages and lower safety standards, or you're a leader of the Democratic Party, his comments were also great.

For everyone else, his comments weren't so great.

As is their wont, the media and others who enable illegal immigration are going to present Romney as a fire-breathing reincarnation of Genghis Khan on this issue and pretend there's a great difference between him and Barack Obama. Many or most of the people who Romney is trying to reach out to by being weak will listen to the media instead of realizing just how much Romney is on their side. At the same time, being weak on immigration will cost Romney support from some of the GOP base. For the media and other illegal immigration enablers, it's a win-win. For Romney and the country, it's a lose-lose. The smarter and patriotic alternative would be for Romney to actually be strong on this issue and to show how his opponents are wrong. Romney clearly isn't capable of that, not to mention the fact that some of his top donors probably don't want that because being strong on immigration might cut into their profits.

Here's a summary of his comments:

* Romney - someone famous for once using the term "self-deport" - said this:

we're not going to round up people around the country and deport them. That's not - I said my primary campaign time and, again, we're not going to round up 12 million people that include the kids and the parents, and have everyone deported. Our system isn't to deport people... I'm not going to be rounding people up and deporting them from the country... I'm not in favor of a deportation, mass deportation, a rounding up of 12 million people and taking them out of the country. I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home and 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.

First, concentrating on only the general concept of deporting people, perhaps Romney should have a chat with Obama. The Obama administration crows about how many people they deport. Yet, here we have the supposed conservative candidate saying that "[o]ur system isn't to deport people." After the Obama administration claims they deport more people than George W Bush, would a potential Romney administration seek to deport fewer than the Obama administration?

Regarding mass deportations, see deportations false choice. Large numbers of hacks have pretended that we need to choose between mass deportations and some form of amnesty, ignoring a third choice: "self-deport", aka attrition. Romney is offering a variant of that false choice by redefining the term "self-deport". To everyone besides Romney, it means "attrition through enforcement". To the new, improved Romney - perhaps prompted by someone like Ed Gillespie - it's just a voluntary thing illegal aliens may or may not decide to do, with seemingly little or no prompting from us.

* Romney validated Democratic Party concepts on immigration, as he's done before. In none of his 1000+ words did he even come close to challenging Obama's ideas on immigration. Instead of pointing out how Obama is wrong on immigration, Romney chided Obama for not pushing his plans faster.

* Romney supported chain migration. He wants that to be "the favored system for immigration".

* He supported a guest workers program.

* He used the tired line about "staple the green card to their diploma". He's used that at least twice before: here and here. See skilled immigration for the downsides of that and related plans.

* He supported Marco Rubio's version of the DREAM Act rather than pointing out the problems with such plans (see the link).

* He used the system is broken and secure the border canards.

* At the end, he seems to be implying that one component of reducing illegal immigration is to increase legal immigration, an idea that's delusional. Search for "five billion" in the post about Paul Ryan on immigration.

From the point of view of most non-elite Americans, the only bright spots were Romney's use of the term "illegal aliens" (see the link) and his support for something like eVerify.

Here are Romney's comments on immigration, excerpted from the transcript (via Latina Lista):

The immigration system generally - and 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 on the part of both Republicans and Democrats. It needs to be fixed. Actually, I think one of the reasons candidate Obama got so much support from the Hispanic community in the last election is that he said that in his first year among his highest priorities would be to fix the immigration system. But he never even filed a bill. He never tried to fix the immigration system. So it's time to put the politics aside and I will actually reform the immigration system to make it work for the people of America.

...Well, let me begin by talking about what we do for our legal immigration system. I will make sure that people know that they can come to this country in a transparent and clear way. They shouldn't have to hire lawyers to find out how to get in this country legally. I want to also make sure that 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. Now, for those that are already here and that are undocumented, that were brought here by their parents and therefore are illegal aliens in this country, my view is that we should put in a place a permanent solution. What the president did was take no action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, even though he said he would, then he put in place something he called a stop-gap measure. Temporary. These kids deserve something better than temporary. They deserve a permanent solution and my view is that the ideas that were being brought forth by Senator Marco Rubio, those were things that should've been pursued. We should have had an answer. And my (inaudible) that for those young people who, for instance, serve in our military, that they should be able to become a permanent resident of the United States. That's the kind of model I think that will work for these young people.

...Well, we're not going to - we're not going to round up people around the country and deport them. That's not - I said my primary campaign time and, again, we're not going to round up 12 million people that include the kids and the parents, and have everyone deported. Our system isn't to deport people. We need to provide a long-term solution and I described the fact that I would be in support of a program that said the people who serve in our military could be permanent residents of the United States. Marco Rubio was working on legislation which he called, I believe, the Dream and Achieve Act. It had a number of features that said kids that get higher education could become permanent residents of the United States. But this is something that's going to have to be worked out by the Republicans and Democrats together. I will lead a program that gets us to a permanent solution as opposed to what was done by the president which, with a few months before the election, he puts in place something which is temporary, which does not solve this issue. I will solve it on a permanent basis consistent with those principles.

...I'm not going to be rounding people up and deporting them from the country. We're going to put in place a permanent solution and, unlike the president, when I am president I will actually do what I promise. I will put in an immigration reform plan that solves this issue.

...I think I have some friends apparently. All right. I think I just answered the last part of your question which is that I said I'm not in favor of a deportation, mass deportation, a rounding up of 12 million people and taking them out of the country. I believe people make their own choices as to whether they want to go home and 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. No nation on earth brings in a million people a year into their country.

This country lives, in part, by virtue of the vitality of our legal immigration system. But at the same time, to protect legal immigration we have to secure our borders and what I like about the Arizona law was that the measure that says we're going to have an employment verification system so that employers know who they're able to hire and who they're not able to hire. And by the way, in my view, if employers hire people that they know are not here legally, there should be tough sanctions on those employers.

...The reason there's an Arizona law is because the federal government, and specifically, President Obama didn't solve immigration problem when he came into office. And so states are doing their best to try and solve it state by state. And any state tries to solve it in their own way, but the right answer is ultimately to have a federal solution to make sure that we have a robust and active legal immigration system, that we stop illegal immigration, and that we don't have to have states trying to find solutions of their own. And one aspect of the Arizona law, which I think is worthwhile to consider and part of the federal solution, is this idea of an employment verification system.

Thu, 09/20/2012 - 10:48 · Importance: 4