By Dan Moffett
What would U.S. immigration policy look like if Mitt Romney were president?
That’s not an easy question to answer because the Republican nominee hasn’t given many specifics on what he’d do if elected. Also, Romney’s publicly stated positions have shifted over the years.
Here’s a look at what he has said in 2012 and what a Romney administration might do with immigration, however...
Romney has said throughout the campaign that he opposes the DREAM Act for the children of illegal immigrants. Moreover, he says he would veto it if the legislation should make it through Congress.
“For those that come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of law,” he said while campaigning in Iowa.
A Romney administration would, however, allow citizenship to young illegal immigrants who serve in the U.S. military and are honorably discharged.
Yielding to calls from the right wing of the Republican Party and the Tea Party, a Romney administration would support legislation that would make English the official language of the United States.
He also says he doesn’t believe in bilingual education, teaching students two languages simultaneously, and instead favors English immersion programs that give students maximum exposure to the “national language.”
Romney has criticized President Obama for failing to do enough to stem the flow of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.
If elected, Romney says he will do what it takes and spend what it takes to make sure the southern border is secure. He says he would continue to explore the use of technological monitoring to complement the fencing. He would also hire more Border Patrol agents. During the primary campaign, Romney said he would consider involving the U.S. military to help secure the border.
Any comprehensive reform legislation that comes through Congress with a path to legal residency for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants is dead on arrival in a Romney White House.
The Republican candidate considers any offer of legal residency or citizenship to be amnesty and a violation of national law. He believes that this “amnesty” would act as a magnet and encourage more illegal immigration.
Romney proposes dealing with the 11 million by encouraging “self-deportation.” Its the thinking behind the Arizona law: make conditions here oppressive and intolerable for illegal immigrants and you will force them to return to their homelands. Romney says it’s not realistic to expect the government to round up 11 million illegal immigrants and transport them out of the country.
He also wants to expand the use of the government’s E-Verify computer system to track down illegal immigrants in the workplace and penalize business owners who hire them.
The U.S. business community has long argued to expand visa allocations for talented, highly educated immigrants, and Romney agrees.
He says he would give more green cards to people with skills that the U.S. economy needs. To supply the economy with unskilled labor, Romney has proposed using guest-worker programs to fill jobs Americans won’t do with temporary foreign employees.
Romney has consistently supported states that have written their own immigration laws and criticized the Obama administration for taking them to court.
He says that “each state has the duty, and the right, to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law.” Romney believes the federal government’s failure to stop illegal immigration justifies the states move into immigration lawmaking.