Illegal Immigration: One Candidate with A Concrete Idea
Is there anyone else willing to put forth a specific idea, rather than simply stating a "principle?"
Update: Commenter Robert, below, refers to Captain Ed's suggestion that Romney's prior statements on immigration line up with McCain-Kennedy. Ed is wrong on this one, as NRO's Jim Geraghty seems to concede here. Poor Governor Romney has so many people eager to catch him changing his position on every issue that they seem to find position changes under every bed. It's going to take Romney a while to get past that-- and it may stick, if the MSM and his opponents are successful in making that happen.
Here's the basis for Captain Ed's suggestion, from the first televised Republican debate:
Captain Ed asks:
MR. WALLACE: Governor Romney, you have also called Senator McCain's immigration plan amnesty. Are you prepared to say that sharing the stage with him tonight? And how do you explain your statement to the Lowell Sun last year in which you said, quote, "Those that are here paying taxes and not taking government benefits should begin a process toward application for citizenship as they would from their home country." Why isn't that amnesty as well, sir?
MR. ROMNEY: Well, my view is this. People should have no advantage by having come here illegally.
MR. WALLACE: But you're not telling them to go home, sir.
MR. ROMNEY: I am going to tell them to go home, but they start by beginning the process of applying for citizenship. But I do not believe -- or applying for permanent residency. They're not going to be barred from doing that, but they do not get any advantage by having come here illegally. That's the key part of what I objected to in McCain-Kennedy.
McCain-Kennedy, what it did is said that people who are here illegally get a special pathway. They're not like all the other immigrants in the world that want to come to this great country; they get a special pathway. That's what's wrong about it. If you're here illegally, you should not have a special pathway to become a permanent resident.My view, you have to secure the border, number one, have an employment verification system, number two, and number three, say to those that are there illegally, get in line with everybody else; you're not going to have a special doorway, any particular advantage, by having come here illegally, to become a permanent resident. [Emphasis added.]
Well, if this bill has the touchback provision, and it has the Z-visa and the formal guest-worker program, and really secures the border, then it meets his requirements . . . doesn't it?
Well, no. Romney's web site spells out his current position:
I strongly oppose today's bill going through the Senate. It is the wrong approach. Any legislation that allows illegal immigrants to stay in the country indefinitely, as the new 'Z-Visa' does, is a form of amnesty. That is unfair to the millions of people who have applied to legally immigrate to the U.S.
That's always been Romney's position. Geraghty quotes an e-mailer on this:
I don't see any inconsistency in Romney's position on this. In fact, Andrew McCarthy at NRO beleives Romney is "seizing the day" on the immigration issue.
In the debate (as quoted by Ed), Governor Romney said, 'If you're here illegally, you should not have a special pathway to become a permanent resident.' An indefinitely renewable Z-visa is precisely such a special pathway to permanent residency.
Geraghty has more here.
Matt Lewis also tries to stick Romney with flip-flopping:
I don't see Romney endorsing anything there. Nothing in that statement is necessarily inconsistent with his statement that "If you're here illegally, you should not have a special pathway to become a permanent resident." Please note: The Z-Visa idea dispenses with any requirement for an illegal to become a permanent resident other than showing up and applying. That's not what Romney is talking about in the quoted segment just above. People need to get over their "Romney is a flip-flopper" fetish.
I also wanted to point out that, as recently as 2005, Gov. Mitt Romney essentially endorsed McCain's immigration stance. According to yesterday's Boston Globe, in 2005, Romney ... described immigration proposals by McCain and others as "quite different" from amnesty, because they required illegal immigrants to register with the government, work for years, pay taxes, not take public benefits, and pay a fine before applying for citizenship.
"That's very different than amnesty, where you literally say, 'OK, everybody here gets to stay,' " Romney said in the interview. "It's saying you could work your way into becoming a legal resident of the country by working here without taking benefits and then applying and then paying a fine."