Top Adviser Says Romney Will Back Away From ‘Self-Deportation’ Policy

TAMPA, Florida — Mitt Romney will reverse course on his campaign pledge to pursue an immigration strategy of “self-deportation” — whereby society makes life so harsh for undocumented immigrants that they deport themselves — according to one of his top Hispanic Steering Committee advisers.

Mel Martinez, the former Florida Republican senator and chairman of the Republican Party, told ThinkProgress on Tuesday that Romney will almost certainly reverse course and take a more “sensible view” on immigration. He argued that Romney’s “self-deportation” policy was simply a product of the bruising Republican primary. When asked if Romney would stick to it if elected, Martinez was frank: “I really, really don’t.”

KEYES: In the primaries, he was advocating a position of self-deportation. Do you think he’ll stick to that?

MARTINEZ: I don’t think so, no I really, really don’t. I think that campaigns are not the best place to make good policy, and primaries are probably the worst place. I think that Governor Romney will have a sensible view towards immigration, which I think hopefully will be good for the country.

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Though Martinez may try to Etch-a-Sketch away Romney’s primary positions, Latino voters are unlikely to be moved. A poll last month showed Romney trailing President Obama among Hispanic Americans by 48 percentage points, 70–22.


In addition, Romney still counts Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — the author of Arizona’s discriminatory SB 1070 bill — among his closest advisers on matters of immigration, and his campaign has indicated he would reinstate mass deportations of young undocumented immigrants that President Obama has curbed.

Martinez may hope for a more “sensible” immigration approach from his candidate, but until Romney says otherwise, voters will have no choice but to take him at his word that “self-deportation” is the policy.