Mitt Romney had the most conservative immigration policy of any Republican presidential candidate during most of the primary, but now that’s he trying to appeal to Hispanic voters as he pivots to general election, the presumed GOP nominee has been shifting back towards the center. Yesterday, he opened to door to a Republican alternative to the DREAM Act — a law he vowed to veto during the primary — and earlier, he said that he never called for making Arizona’s harsh immigration law a “model” for the nation.
But that’s not how one of the key people behind that law, former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, sees it. The former Republican lawmaker, who was ousted in a recall election, was the key force behind turning SB-1070, authored by Romney adviser Kris Kobach, into law.
He told reporters today that he “absolutely” believed Mitt Romney had endorsed the law as a model for the country. The Huffington Post’s Elise Foley reports:
“The folks that he’s said [are] his advisers on this, I have worked with for years and have great confidence and trust in them,” Pearce told reporters after a Senate subcommittee hearing on the immigration law. “I know Romney is a compassionate man, most of us, I’d like to think, are. But I think he also understands the crisis and the damage to this republic and the need to enforce our law.” […]
Romney also has advocated for what he called “self-deportation,” or making things difficult for undocumented immigrants until they decide to leave, one of the central tenets of the Arizona law. […] “[Self-deportation] is in SB 1070,” Pearce said.
Previously, Pearce has said that Romney’s “immigration policy is identical to mine.”
Romney has tried to distance himself from Kobach, who also helped author the controversial immigration crackdowns in Alabama, South Carolina, and other states. But Kobach quickly contradicted him, saying he regularly advises senior members of Romney’s staff.