No Pay, No Stay: Mitt Romney's Real Immigration Position Vindicated

Critics of the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his views on legal and illegal immigration are busy perfecting novel methods with which to impugn his character and positions. Consider Dana Milbank's "bad by association" argument.

The point of Mr. Milbank's efforts is to show that Mr. Romney has taken such extreme immigration positions that he will be forced to renounce them by backtracking and erasing them, he hopes, from public memory.

And how does he know these views are "extreme"? Because Russell Pearce, who was instrumental in the passage of the Arizona immigration bill now before the Supreme Court says that Mr. Romney's immigration policy is "identical to mine." Actually, that's not exactly or all of what he said, but giving the full quote would run the danger of being accurate.

What Mr. Pearce actually said about Mr. Romney's views was that "His immigration policy is identical to mine, attrition by enforcement. It's identical to mine — enforce the laws. We have good laws, just enforce them."

Even more damning in Mr. Milbank's view is that Mr. Pearce is reported to have said that Gov. Romney "absolutely" give him the impression that he thought that the Arizona legislation was a model for his (Romney's) views. And what's the evidence for that? Why a link to the Huffington Post, that liberal site of record. Actually, for what's its worth, and its value isn't huge, the word "absolutely" does not appear in the text of the article that Milbank links to, but no matter.

What Mr. Romney actually said at the Republican debate in Mesa, Ariz., was this:

Moderator
Governor Romney, the border security is part of the equation, what to do about whether it's 8 million or 11 million illegal immigrants in the country now is another part of the equation. And Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who's with us tonight from Maricopa County — he's in the audience … . What about arresting? Should there be aggressive, seek them out, find them and arrest them as the Sheriff Arpaio advocates?

Mitt Romney
You know, I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says — that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on E-verify. This E-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who's here legally and who's not here legally.

And as a result of E-verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent.

There you have it, in full. Romney does see Arizona as a model — in that it is applying and making mandatory E-Verify. As a result, people who are not legally authorized to work in the United States, can't, at least in Arizona.

Romney's views have nothing to do with police stops. His "model" of using E-Verify is uniformly applied to everyone; therefore there can be no credible accusations of "racial profiling".

And it's true Gov. Romney said in the Tampa debate: "Yes, we'd have a card that indicates who's here illegally. And if people are not able to have a card, and have through an E-Verify system determine that they are here illegally, then they're going to find they can't get work here. And if people don't get work here, they're going to self-deport to a place where they can get work."

Newt Gingrich mocked Mr. Romney's self-deportation policy and the analysis on which it was based, but reality had the last laugh.

A recent Pew Hispanic Center analysis details the apparent fact that 900,000 Mexicans and their families who have been illegally living and working in the United States have indeed self-deported since 2007.

This apparently owes more to the economic downturn than to the use of E-Verify, which is not at this point mandatory and which covers only a fraction of American business.

But still the premise of the self-deportation argument is apparently true: No pay, no stay.