At the last GOP presidential debate, Newt Gingrich asserted his support for an immigration plan that would accord an undocumented immigrant “red card” status — that is, give them a legal right to be here without providing a path to citizenship. Mitt Romney then seized a political opportunity to engage in a false attack against Gingrich, slamming the former Speaker for embracing “amnesty.”
Earlier this week, Bloomberg news reported that, in 2006, Romney “took a nearly identical position” as Gingrich, arguing undocumented immigrants living in the United States should not be “rounded up and box-carred out,” and that they should “get in line” to apply for citizenship.
During his interview with Fox News tonight, Bret Baier asked Romney about this hypocritical stand. Romney affirmed that he does believe undocumented immigrants should indeed be given a pathway to citizenship by being placed “in the back of the line.” Baier astutely noted, “Isn’t that what Gingrich is saying?” Romney incorrectly responded that Gingrich’s plan allows them to “become citizens” and provides “amnesty.”
When Baier asked whether Romney was going to send undocumented immigrants home as they apply for legal status, Romney uncomfortably stammered for a few seconds. He then circled around the issue: “Whether they apply here, whether they apply by going home — I think I’ve said in the past I think it makes more sense for them to go home, if we set up a system for them to apply here…” Baier cut him off and asked again what Romney planned to do immediately with undocumented immigrants who are already here. Again, Romney had no response. Watch it:
In 2008, Romney took the view that every undocumented immigrant had to leave. “Under the ideal setting, at least in my view, you say to those who have just come in recently, we’re going to send you back home immediately, we’re not going to let you stay here,” Romney explained. “You just go back home. For those that have been here, let’s say, five years, and have kids in school, you allow kids to complete the school year, you allow people to make their arrangements, and allow them to return back home. Those that have been here a long time, with kids that have responsibilities here and so forth, you let stay enough time to organize their affairs and go home.”
In a recent interview, one Romney adviser explained that his boss’s current position is essentially to make an undocumented immigrant’s life so unbearable here in the United States that the individual decides to pick up and leave voluntarily.
For an understanding of all the GOP presidential candidates’ views on immigration, check out our compilation here.