During an NBC GOP presidential debate last month, Mitt Romney drew laughter from some in the crowd when he revealed that his plan for immigration reform amounts to “self-deportation, which is people decide that they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here.”
That idea — which forms the basis of the radical anti-immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama — is inspired by the work of Kris Kobach, Kansas’ Secretary of State. Kobach, who advises Romney on immigration, explained the “self-deporation” concept in an interview with ThinkProgress recently, calling it “attrition through enforcement.”
In an interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, John McCain — who has endorsed Romney — distanced himself from the former Massachusetts governor’s rhetoric. “We have to present a humane approach to a very difficult issue of illegal immigration into this country,” McCain said, adding that he favors a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. Ramos forced McCain to concede that he did not agree with the policy of self-deporation:
RAMOS: You’re talking about a humane way. Is self-deportation a humane way to treat 11 million undocumented immigrants?
McCAIN: No. I think there are some people who want to leave this country and return to the country they came from, but obviously it requires a broader solution than that, and we all know that.
Romney and Kobach’s radicalism is alienating allies in the Republican Party — even those who have endorsed Romney. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who supports Romney, said self-deportation “was frankly a bad choice of words.” Alex Garza, the vice president of Hispanics in Politics — and a Republican — said “the Republican Party shouldn’t promote policies of family separation. Self-deportation isn’t possible.”
Newt Gingrich also assailed Romney, saying “I think he’s amazingly insensitive to the realities of the immigrant community — his whole concept of self-deportation. I’ve not met anyone who thinks it’s in touch with reality. People aren’t going to self-deport.”