Silver-Plate Lining? Romney Not The Worst From Immigration Patriot Viewpoint
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Well, that settles it: Mitt Romney is going to be the next GOP Presidential nominee. GOP voters don’t like him much, but Rick Santorum and/or Ron Paul needed a miracle to derail him, and they didn’t get it, or at least not enough of a miracle. Silver (or at least silver-plate) lining: the ignominious fact is that Romney is the best of the three on immigration—which is not saying a lot, but it’s something.

Two of the previous non-Romney Flavors of the Month, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, foundered in large part due to their weaknesses on illegal immigration, which Romney, perhaps tellingly, did not hesitate to exploit.

Of course, this has led the usual chorus of Hispandering Republicans, fee-hungry professional Hispanics and stereotype-struck Main Stream Media reporters to argue that he will not be able to win the mythical Hispanic Swing Vote. For example:

[GOP wary of Romney’s rhetoric on immigrants, By Peter Wallsten, Washington Post, December 16, 2011. links added]

As usual, nobody thinks about the white vote.

On immigration, NumbersUSA ranks Romney second to only Michele Bachmann—who, however, never did criticize legal immigration and passed up the chance to confront Romney on it and get the issue in play. Of course, this is more of a comment the overall GOP field: Romney only gets a C-.

For the most part, Romney’s low NumbersUSA grade is due to his sins of omission. He has not said anything about refugees, birthright citizenship, the diversity lottery, chain migration, or overall legal immigration numbers.

The one area where Romney has committed a sin of commission: high-skilled immigration. He has repeatedly called for increasing skilled immigration, despite serious unemployment among skilled Americans. He stated in one debate:

“I'd staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who's got a degree of math, science, a Masters degree, Ph.D.”[America's foreign-born scientists and engineers, CNN, November 23, 2011]

(Bachmann, incidentally, concurred).

Still, on amnesty, Romney has been fairly solid. He even recently stated that he would veto the DREAM Act. Romney’s platform says: “I very firmly believe ... that those people who have come here illegally do not get an advantage to become permanent residents, they do not get a special pathway.” It also states that illegals “should be required to return to their home country.”

Romney has come out strongly in favor of mandatory E-Verify, ending sanctuary cities, cutting off in state tuition, driver’s licenses, and other benefits for illegal aliens. In an interview with the Arizona NBC affiliate, he said he would end the lawsuit against SB 1070 and said he supported Arizona’s efforts against illegal immigration.[ Romney would end SB 1070 challenge by Brahm Resnik, September 16, 2011]

All these statements are good. But many Americans will wonder if Romney will flip-flop as soon as he gets the GOP nomination, and start promoting amnesty. And they can point to a 2006 interview with Bloomberg news in which Romney said that illegals“are not going to be rounded up and box-carred out.” After creating the usual mass deportation straw man, Romney instead suggested that

“We should have those individuals who are here illegally begin a process either of returning to their homes—particularly those that are unable to be here without government support or those who are involved in crime—or beginning a process of registering for a citizenship, applying for citizenship and then carrying out the process necessary to get there."

[Romney in 2006 Backed Immigration Stance He Now Deems ‘Amnesty’, by Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Bloomberg News, November 28, 2011]

There is no reasonable way to interpret those words other than a call for amnesty. The best that can be said in Romney’s defense is that, since he spoke, the debate on illegal immigration has moved decisively in the patriot direction within the GOP. There are many politicians who had supported amnesty in 2006 but who become reliably anti-amnesty over the last five years. In politics, this phenomenon is described as “he didn’t see the light, but he felt the heat.” See

Moreover, that one statement appears to be Romney sole pro-illegal remarks during his otherwise-solid governorship. He threatened to veto a bill that granted driver’s licenses to illegal aliens in 2004, which fortunately never made it to his desk. He vetoed a bill to give in state tuition to illegal immigrants that same year. In 2006, he signed a 287(g) agreement to deputize state law enforcement officials to fight illegal immigration.

I believe that Romney does not get enough credit for these stands. During his governorship—which occurred the height of George W. Bush’s popularity—few Republicans—certainly not those representing blue states—even gave lip service to immigration control.

Nevertheless, Romney has certainly made a few statements that leave the door open to a future flip-flop on amnesty. Last month, Romney told the editorial board of the Washington Examiner

Virtually every Republican I know that's spoken about illegal immigration says the same thing. I listened to Lindsey Graham the other day and he said, 'secure the border, stop the flow of illegal aliens into the country, and then we can address the issue of what to do with the people who are here illegally today. 'I do have my own thoughts on that. I actually have a plan in mind, I haven't unveiled it. There are other people I'd like to sit down with and review it with me.

I went down to Florida and met with Jeb Bush six, seven months ago, laid out what I thought would be a complete plan to deal with permanent immigration policies with regards to our legal system to simplify it. Number two, how to deal with those who are here illegally today. And number three, how to secure the border.

[Romney's secret plan to end illegal immigration, by Conn Caroll, December 7, 2007]

Of course, Romney is so vague, this could mean anything. I could answer his three questions in three words:

  1. Moratorium
  2. Deportation
  3. Fence.

But the fact that Romney is talking about “the issue of what to do with people who are here illegally” with notorious immigration enthusiasts like Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush must worry any supporter of patriotic immigration reform.

My view: Like it or not, Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for president. The upside is that he is miles ahead of George W. Bush and John McCain.

The downside: Americans still have many further miles to go before they can truly take their country back.

"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.

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