When Mitt Romney outlined his ideas about immigration policy at a Latino conference in Florida, he endorsed removing the cap on visas for the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. This measure would allow the more than 300,000 people who are waiting for a family-sponsored green card to skip the years-long wait for a visa under a Romney presidency. “We will exempt from caps the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents. And we will eliminate other forms of bureaucratic red tape that keep families from being together,” he told the crowd at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials conference.
This is not a new idea — Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ) has championed this provision as part of a broader comprehensive immigration reform bill. But, as Menendez pointed out in a statement after Romney’s speech, Republicans have “failed to endorse” the idea of allowing more family visas. “I’ve reached out to Republicans to help me fix our legal immigration system but unfortunately to date, Republicans continue to oppose reforms to our family immigration system,” Menendez said.
Indeed, no Republican co-sponsored Menendez’s immigration proposal that would expand the number of family visas. And when the senator’s office has reached out to Republicans to compromise on the provision Romney mentioned, Republicans rejected the olive branch, a staff member told ThinkProgress.
ThinkProgress reached out to Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary committees to see if they would support Romney’s proposal. In response, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) said in a statement Romney is “right to recognize that immigration reform needs to be geared towards bolstering our economy and job creation,” but did not comment on the GOP candidate’s visa expansion proposal.
As an Associated Press fact check of Romney’s speech points out, Romney would need Congress’ help to expand the limit if he were president. But after failing to support legislative attempts to increase the limit, it’s unlikely Republicans will jump on board now simply because Romney has suggested it.