Romney’s Omission: His Self-Deportation Plan for Illegal Immigrants

Photograph by Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

Mitt Romney is greeted by Hector Barreto, chairman of the Latino Coalition, before he addresses the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2012.

On a day when Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney, told reporters that the Republican presidential nominee will be offering more policy specifics, the candidate left out a key one as he spoke to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

It was a little less than a year ago during the Republican primary race that Romney began getting lots of applause by stressing his opposition to “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. His foil often was Newt Gingrich, who proposed allowing citizenship for law-abiding, English-speaking illegal immigrants who have been in the U.S. for at least 25 years and have certain civic and religious ties to their communities. Romney lambasted that plan.

He also persistently attacked Texas Governor Rick Perry for backing a law in the Lone Star State allowing undocumented workers’ children who have lived in Texas for three years and graduated from a local high school to pay in-state tuition at public universities, provided they apply for U.S. citizenship.

And Romney would go one step farther in depicting himself as the Republican who would crack down hardest on illegal immigrants, saying they should be uprooted from whatever life they had established in this country and sent back to their countries of origin to apply for legal status — so-called self-deportation.

In his speech today in Los Angeles, he didn’t shy away from saying, “I oppose amnesty, because amnesty will make it harder, not easier to strengthen our legal immigration system.” He also said that as president, he would push for “strict penalties” for businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

What he didn’t mention — and hasn’t for months — was the self-deportation idea that helped him become President Barack Obama’s Republican challenger.

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