In an interview with Jorge Ramos on Miami’s Univision Television last Wednesday, Mitt Romney discussed his stance on immigration.
“I am not anti-immigrant,” he said. “I’m pro-immigrant. I like immigration. Immigration has been an extraordinary source of strength in this country.”
When Ramos asked Romney how his “self-deportation” concept for illegal immigrants in the U.S. could possibly work given that more than 12,000 people were killed and 40 million people were living in poverty last year in Mexico, Romney laid out the details of his plan.
Essentially, Romney's plan would create an eVerify system that enables employers to confirm the legal status of potential employees to keep illegal immigrants from getting hired. Employers that refuse to comply with the system would be severely sanctioned.
“On that basis, over time, people will find it less attractive to be here if they can’t find work here,” Romney explained. “Some refer to that as self-deportation. I … believe that we are wise to enforce immigration laws by having those people who are here legally have identification to that extent, and have an eVerify system that actually works.”
Next, Ramos noted that Romney’s father was born in Mexico, and asked Romney if he considers himself to be Mexican-American: “Could you be the first Hispanic president?”
Romney responded that he didn’t “think people would think I was being honest with them if I said I was Mexican-American.” But added with a chuckle, “I would appreciate it if you’d get that word out.”
Yet, strangely, Romney reversed course in Thursday's GOP debate in Florida. Defending himself against an attack from Gingrich, who called him the most anti-immigrant candidate of the four on stage, Romney said, “Mr. Speaker, I’m not anti-immigrant, my father was born in Mexico.”
Romney is trying to appear more sympathetic toward immigration issues before the Florida primaries on Tuesday, in which approximately one-tenth of the Republican vote is expected to be cast by the Hispanic population. Romney's use of his father’s birthplace in Chihuahua, Mexico as a tactic to win the Hispanic vote seems dishonest.
But more importantly, if Romney is not anti-immigrant, what is he?
“Our responsibility,” Romney told Ramos, “is, first and foremost, to those that want to come here legally … I really want to protect legal immigration, and encourage a more transparent legal process for legal immigration. I would like to see more legal immigration in this country.”
Romney did not, however, offer any information on how he plans to increase legal immigration. Clearly, he cannot be a Mexican American, nor does he appear capable of empathizing with the Hispanic population, both legal and illegal, in general.
If he were actually pro-immigrant, Romney would understand that for the many who are willing to undergo such a great risk as to immigrate illegally to the U.S., the long, complicated, and expensive process of legal immigration in its current state is simply not a viable option.
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