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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Romney Thinks Immigrants Will Embrace "Self-Deportation"

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[I'm in Costa Rica this week at the American Immigration Lawyers Association midyear meeting but will try and keep posting.]

Suddenly, this guy isn't looking like such a winner anymore. People who thought voting for Romney was the ticket to beating Obama are having buyer's remorse. And if Mitt thought he could count on Cuban Republicans in South Florida - a very sizable part of the Florida Republican electorate - he didn't help himself with his odd theory that the solution to the country's immigration problem is to make people miserable enough to want to leave on their own. That, of course, is basically the policy of the last several years and we haven't exactly ended illegal immigration. Lily Gil, an expert on Hispanic politics, pans Romney's proposal on a post on Fox News' Hispanic web site.

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  1. Jack's Avatar
    I've noticed that some commentators and reporters are confusing two meanings of self-deportation. What Romney was referring to is "a concept of handling the illegal alien population with something between mass legalization and mass deportation. Simply put, you take away the things that drew illegal aliens here and let most of them self-deport", i.e., "attrition through enforcement". "turn off the magnets", etc. It's confusing to use the word deport to describe this policy because there is no actual deportation, a governmental act transferring the alien.

    Operation Scheduled Departure was a 2008 Bush program which was also described as self-deportation:


    Maybe Romney already had the details on his website, but this was the first I heard of this transition period for employed illegal aliens to leave. Variations of this concept are to give the employer of illegal aliens time to transition to legal workers. What's unclear is what Romney means.

    "For those that have come here illegally, they might have a transition time to allow them to set they affairs in order, and then go back home and get in line with everybody else," Romney said. "They start in the back of the line, not at the front of the line."

    That sounds like the alien would be in the position he would have been had he never been illegally present--no advantage, but also no disadvantage. In other words, a "clean slate" which is defined as "an opportunity to start over without prejudice".

    Then he said:

    "what we are going to do is that we are going to give people a chance to transition to be able to go home to get in line and then, ultimately if they would like to, to have a green card to come into this country legally."

    "If they would like to have a green card" sounds more like the touchback concept. Touchback is not back of the line, but a jump of the existing line.

    Maybe Romney is intentionally keeping it vague so that the pro-enforcement community thinks the aliens would be starting from scratch while the anti-enforcement community thinks they'll be coming right back.

    Interestingly, many commentators are saying they had never heard of self-deportation. They seemed stunned at the idea that there is some middle ground between mass legalization and mass deportation. Apparently, they had completely bought into the mass deportation straw man, a fallacy pushed hard by anti-enforcements. It's odd considering that the concept is so easy to understand and if you do a dated search, self-deportation has been mentioned in mainstream reporting for years. E.g.:


    So regardless of what Romney really means or how committed he is, the man at least is educating people on basic immigration enforcement concepts. He's almost professorial in the way he calmly articulates his position in contrast to the typical demagogic tone of both sides. That's why it's absurd when people complain about his tone when he speaks about immigration--the usual complaint about his tone is that he's not fiery enough. The standard is so low, he's elevating the immigration debate but to some people, any position they don't agree with is considered "poisoning the debate".
  2. Jack's Avatar
    Lili Gil:

    Is there a process for those who graciously self-deport so they can get into "the line" back at home? No, which highlights Romney's ignorance on the issue.

    Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/01/24/en-serio-romneys-brilliant-solution-to-immigration-is-self-deportation/#ixzz1kQe62rSj

    There is a process--the existing one. Ms. Gil's confusion doesn't highlight Romney's ignorance (he seems to know the issue much better than his opponents) but the lack of clarity over whether he's referring to the existing process or a new touchback process.
  3. Jack's Avatar
    "For those that have come here illegally, they might have a transition time to allow them to set they affairs in order, and then go back home and get in line with everybody else," Romney said. "They start in the back of the line, not at the front of the line."

    "With everybody else" sounds like no new line. "Back of the line" sounds like no special place in the existing line.
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    "that the solution to the country's immigration problem is to make people miserable enough to want to leave on their own."

    Keep the economy in permanent recession. No different from what is happening now. Plain acceptance of the fact that they dont have the money "to enforce the law." Heck Americans should set an example by obeying the traffic law first. Yesterday, I had to point out to motorists in northern virginia a sign that says $100 fine to stop for pedestrians at a stripped line. Yet many did not stop. Americans should lead by example first.
  5. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    So, they would take their 10 year bar and then start in the back of a 20-year line, if they can qualify for it (like, suddenly getting citizen relatives). Right, I just see people jumping on that chance...
  6. gg's Avatar
    "patriotic americans" renounce us citizenship to avoid paying taxes - ha ha !!

  7. Another Voice's Avatar
    Self Deportation..... turn off the magnets....make life miserable for people.....roll out the not welcome mat.....

    For the past 25 years no significant Immigration reform bill has being done in the US. Currently aprox. 12 million people live in the US out of status. The not welcome mat has been rolled out since a few years back and put on steroids by the current administration. Deportations are up, arrests at the border are down and the economy has turned off the magnets via the free market....so why aren't these people leaving on their own??? where can we find "self deportation"???? Is it a dream???? a political posture??? a chance to flip flop?? maybe definitively not a reality. But the Repuks true to form will stay on the talking points on this idea much like the stay on their economic polices. The will keep hammering the out until people hear them enough and start to believe them... case in point the Bush Tax cuts and the theory that lower taxes on the rich and trickle down economics is the cure of all economic problems. We have lived in that reality for the past 10 years(and the current immigration reality for 25 years) yet in does not come true. Republican answer we still have to lower taxes more and take out ALL regulation(we must create a Police state). Immigration the exact same thing unless we have a defacto police state we will never solve the immigration problem and all other efforts will continue to be fruitless...classic republicanism. It just goes to show that it is true what they say "Americans will try ALL the wrong approaches before they come to their senses and implement the right one" I think Churchill said that....it is true for Immigration today.
  8. Another Voice's Avatar
    Gingrich blasts "fantasy" Romney immigration policy

  9. Sa's Avatar
    "So, they would take their 10 year bar and then start in the back of a 20-year line, if they can qualify for it (like, suddenly getting citizen relatives). Right, I just see people jumping on that chance...
    They should improve all the lines before they talk about the amnesty of any kind...
  10. George Chell's Avatar
    By suggesting self-deportation, Romney virtually concedes that we have no money to enforce the laws of the land, people are not willing to pay for it, the rich will change their citizenship within minutes so that they dont have to pay taxes in this country (of course, the US wont reciprocate by increasing the number of investor visas, and hence we loose jobs to other countries). Rest assured that the coming budget cuts of 2013 will further decimate the enforcement budget and pass the buck to the states unless the SCOTUS forces the feds to do it. Second reason Romney likes self-deportation idea is because people like him get to exploit the illegals...something Gingrich should have hammered Romney on but did not. Even if illegals self-deport, more illegals will come through if there are jobs of course. The way the things are going the GOP wants to drive all jobs abroad including those done by the illegals so that they can make more money. This is indeed the Romney doctrine when he says that the illegals should self-deport. They wont, some will get in the enforcement net, while others will stay and people like Romney can exploit them for all its worth and if illegals return, they can always move many of those jobs to Mexico (other than construction and janitorial services of course where jobs are fewer and fewer in number).
  11. Another Voice's Avatar
    GOP, don't blow it with Florida's Latinos
    By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor
    updated 12:18 PM EST, Thu January 26, 2012

  12. Another Voice's Avatar
    It's official, the Repuks have started their quest to split the Latino vote. They are going to use this guy as a trojan horse to split the Latino vote and give Romney a chance. It just goes to show that Obama truly wasted an opportunity to lock the Latino vote for generations and has given the Repuks a chance.

    Rubio confronted as he maps out "middle ground" on immigration

  13. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    AV - I would just remind you that Sarah Palin was chosen by McCain not because of her Tea Party credentials - but because she was supposed to be the secret weapon to win the women's vote. That didn't exactly work out when women started to hear what she actually thought about issues of concern to them. I wouldn't worry about Rubio and Latinos. He might help with Florida, but not the rest of the country's Hispanic community. And even in Florida, only a small percent of the state's Latinos would closely identify with his politics.
  14. George Chell's Avatar
    Rubio is trying to have it both ways. Romney will be better off selecting Jeb Bush if he wants to win the Latino vote.
  15. Jack's Avatar
    Ruben Navarrette Jr. wrote:

    "the Secure Communities program, which requires police and sheriff departments to submit fingerprints to federal officials of anyone they arrest who they suspect is an illegal immigrant -- read Latino."


    How does Secure Communities work?
    When an individual is booked into a jail, his or her fingerprints are regularly sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to be checked against criminal databases. With Secure Communities, the FBI then sends the fingerprints to ICE, where they are checked against the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (US-VISIT) and the Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT).

  16. Jack's Avatar
    From AV's Univision link:

    "on the left, there are those who are using this issue for pure politics, creating unrealistic and unreasonable expectations for those in the Latino community across this county advocating that our country be the only one in the world that has no immigration laws and no mechanism for enforcing them," he said. "I think that needs to stop."

    -- Senator Marco Rubio

  17. Another Voice's Avatar
    Right Jack that is his selling point to Latinos to bring them to his side and split the vote in favor of his party. The Latino community will see right through that.......
  18. Another Voice's Avatar
    I agree with you Greg, however I think Obama gave them an opening here and they will go for it to see if they can make something happen. In a tight election it maybe a huge risk....
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