September 3rd, 2007
05:30 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney: Amnesty 'the wrong way to go'

Mitt Romney campaigned in New Hampshire on Labor Day

ASHLAND, New Hampshire (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spent his Labor Day sharing his views on illegal immigration with prospective voters at a campaign stop in Ashland, the Granite State's geographical center.

The former Massachusetts governor drew a significant crowd in this small town nestled between mountains and nearby Squam Lakes. The crowd of mostly older voters dressed in their Sunday best peppered the presidential hopeful on national security issues and his stance on how to deal with the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

"The wrong answer is amnesty. We tried it twice before," said Romney. "Amnesty only led to more people coming into the country 'cause they say, 'Oh gosh, look if you get in illegally, ultimately they'll let you stay.' That's the wrong message."

"Amnesty, in my opinion, is the wrong way to go, and I believe the other candidates in this race are planning on amnesty, which I think is a mistake," he continued. "Their view is that if [they] come here illegally we've got to create a special pathway so that they can stay here. My view is that in fact people who come here illegally should get in line with everybody else, and there should be no special pathway to citizenship or permanent residency for those who have come here illegally."

Romney also railed against employers and businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants, as well as so-called "sanctuary cities," where local officials flout federal immigration laws.

"We are going to end the practice of sanctuary cities in this country and stop welcoming people that are here illegally," Romney said.

–CNN New Hampshire Producer Sareena Dalla

Filed under: Immigration • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. David, Salinas, CA

    Governor Romney continues to be the Chameleon Candidate: he turns red in the red states, and blue in the blue ones. Romney, who got caught using undocumented labor for both Massachusetts Public Works projects and his own yard work, has also taken liberal positions as recently as the last couple of years.

    Here’s Romney in a November 2005 interview with the Globe, supporting the McCain/Bush position, claiming it was:

    "quite different from amnesty, because they required illegal immigrants to register with the government, work for years, pay taxes, not take public benefits, and pay a fine before applying for citizenship,”
    "That's very different than amnesty, where you literally say, 'OK, everybody here gets to stay... It's saying you could work your way into becoming a legal resident of the country by working here without taking benefits and then applying and then paying a fine."

    In the same interview, Romney said it was not "practical or economic for the country" to deport illegal immigrants, adding:

    "These people contribute in many cases to our economy and to our society,""

    Here’s Romney in the March 30, 2006 Lowell Sun:

    “I don’t believe in rounding up 11 million people and forcing them at gunpoint from our country,”

    “Those that are here paying taxes and not taking government benefits should begin a process towards application for citizenship, as they would from their home country.”

    Whatever your position on immigration or anything else, Mitt Romney agrees with you. He just wants your vote, and he’s willing to say anything to get it.

    September 3, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. xtina chicago IL

    Gov. Romney is right that just because someone came here illegally doesn't mean they should get special treatment to becoming citizens.

    I think these illegals should pay their back taxes, pay a fine for having broken federal immigration laws and be placed in queue to file proper citizenship forms.

    September 3, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. Mark, Princeton, NJ

    Romney gets it. No reason to treat illegal immigrants better than the law-abiding people who want to become Americans and have gone through the paperwork and queuing. Go Mitt!

    September 3, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. nh4ronpaul

    I was at a function today with Mitt. This has to be the most boring candidate ever. He never said anything really earthshaking and just skimmed on a 'Republican values' sort of theme. There is just no fire for this man.

    Yet, there were numerous reporters and photographers there, eager to catch his every word.

    Where were these people during all the Ron Paul visits when he had 300 screaming people there and gave fiery SUBSTANTIVE speeches? Honestly, the press misses the best stories.

    Monday August 20th was Ron's birthday. There were many photo and story opps at the restaurant - the old woman who came in off the street and said she loved Ron, the little boy who came in to ask about the war, and the young student who asked one question and became an immediate supporter - and the business people who spent their lunchtime so they could meet a REAL CONSERVATIVE.

    I guess the news outlets would rather spend time on these phony slick guys pretending to be republicans, and of whom we are already sick to death.

    If you want to capture some real excitement check the videos of Iowa and the UNPAID support of Ron Paul.
    Check the videos of Strafford County and see the UNPAID supporters who came out to win that poll.

    People do not want a president who buys his way into the white house...sorry!

    September 3, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. Eric (Arizona)

    Why is Romney the only candidate who is making sense on this issue?

    Illegal immigrants BROKE THE LAW!!! Why are other candidates looking for ways to let illegals stay so that we tax payers can foot the health care bills for them when they get hurt jumping the border fence?

    Illegal immigration has to stop, and those illegal immigrants already in the country need to either 1) apply for a visa like everyone else, or 2) go home where they can reside legally.

    We should not be supporting any kind of illegal immigration in any form.....IT'S ILLEGAL!!!

    September 3, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. Carson, Fremont, California

    Have you noticed that if you do a Google search for Congressmen or women's name and then add, "Report Card" you usually end up with a choice that says BetterImmigration in part of the link and it takes you to a page like this?

    September 3, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  7. Jim, Santa Barbara CA

    Go Mitt! You tell 'em. Not only do illegal immigrants steal our jobs, but they don't pay taxes, technically stealing billions from our government to live here. They need to be kicked out or legitimized. I also support the complete lock-down of our borders. We really don't need any more people in the USA. Let's let established and contributing citizens live, learn, grow and mature here. People are free to visit, but the age where this is an immigrant destination is over.

    September 3, 2007 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Aaron Kinney, Sherman Oaks CA

    If not amnesty, then what? Kick the immigrants out? Where will we fill those jobs once we make them leave? We are dealing with record low unemployment and its not like US citizens are rushing to garden, clean, farm, and do all the other tough jobs that immigrants do.

    Romney is oblivious. Its not a "wrong" message to be mature enough, as a nation, to admit that our immigration laws are WRONG and need to be FIXED.

    Its actually the "right" message to reward hard working immigrants with acceptance, even if they are illegal. Its not like THEY chose to be illegal anyway! Its only our own ridiculous laws that declared them to be illegal.

    September 3, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. LonewackoDotCom, Los Angeles, CA

    He already said something like this over a month ago, and some enterprising citizen reporter needs to ask him the question at the link to find out exactly what he means. (Please don't wait for the MSM to call him on his semantic games, everyone needs to go to his appearances, ask him that question, then upload his response to video sites.)

    September 3, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  10. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    This is perhaps the only issue on which the Mittster is right according to a large majority of voters. Illegals, amnesty and sanctuary are all simply wrong.

    September 3, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  11. Blayze Kohime, Columbus OH

    He makes decent points. The real thing we need to note is why people are coming here from Mexico. We need to encourage their government to make enough improvement in their citizens way of life that they do not feel the need to leave.
    Easier said than done, I know, but it is the only way to truly solve it.

    September 3, 2007 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  12. Tom, Huxley, IA

    No amnesty. Okay, how do you plan on rounding up 11 million people, Mittsy? Who's going to pay for it? Are you aware of the scope of that kind of operation? You'd be using a shotglass to bail out the Titanic. Stop speaking in sound bites that people want to hear and offer some real solutions already. Life is not as black and white as you conservatives make it out to be.

    September 3, 2007 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  13. xtina chicago IL

    Reply to those who wonder how Romney can do it-

    Gov. Romney addressed this in New Hampshire this weekend. He explains his intentions to make it work :

    He (Romney) believes they will eventually leave the country of their own volition.

    "I wouldn't round them up as one big group and try to bus them all home at once" Romney said.

    Romney envisions that, as the federal govt cracks down on companies and employers who hire illegal immigrants, the word will spread and illegal immigrants will conclude they won't be able to get work and will begin to return to their native countries.

    "Realistically they will attrite, they will return to their homes and they will be replaced over time with legal workers."

    "The idea is a gradual and humane replacement of illegal workers with either U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. We don't want to put ourselves in a setting where we hurt our own economy."

    September 3, 2007 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  14. Shawnie Cannon, Grants Pass OR

    Illegal aliens take more than they give. They benefit a few with cheap labor, but cost us a lot in the long run.

    It is humorous to read people putting words in his mouth and then arguing with it. EX: "rounding people up".

    The laws already exist, he is talking about enforcement of what is already in place....

    September 3, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  15. xtina - chicago IL

    Does anyone think that if we slowly phase out illegal immigrants from working for companies here in the US, it will help our economy? Will LEGAL immigrants be eager for the jobs that the illegals have left? What about unemployed American citizens- will they take up any of these jobs? And finally, what about able-bodied people collecting welfare- will they take any of the jobs left behind by illegal immigrants who have gone back to their native country?

    I believe this idea could work. It all starts with checking employer rolls for illegals. I read that this whole thing, from start to finish will take several years, but it's our economy we're talking about; it's our country's future we're re-shaping.

    September 3, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  16. Steven in Charleston, SC

    Why do so many insist on making these people out to be lazy, evil, villains? We are talking about people who, at great personal risk and sacrifice, travel for miles on foot, take on back-breaking menial jobs, and endure the scorn and derision of millions of people, all in an effort to provide for their family.

    Do I believe we need to secure our borders? Absolutely. Border security is a necessary component of national security. But I also think it is high time we stop villifying people who want nothing more than to provide a better life for themselves and their families. That has been a defining element of what it is to be an American for our entire history. We shouldn't be closing the gates now.

    September 3, 2007 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  17. J, Seattle, WA

    Isn't this guy's website in Espanol?

    September 3, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  18. Elan David

    What does the Mitt propose;i.e. massive deportations by train or plane, barge or boat. We should revise the Nazi plan for moving Jews to the death camps; there may be trnaportation techniques he can use. The USA and the rest of the Americas can solve this problem by investing in infrastructure
    in order to create jobs. They come here out desperation; thier despotic regimes are corrupt. So why do we not invade them and set democratic governments responsible to the peole?

    September 3, 2007 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  19. W.R.T, Elizabeth, NJ

    Two points Tom from Huxley, IA:
    1. There are currently operations that deport illegals. There is no need for a large scale operation. All that is required is to seal the border properly and continue the current deportations. The reason they are not helping right now is because, once an illegal immigrant is deported he or she can come right back in. A properly sealed border will take care of that.
    2. It's rather hypocritical to say "Life is not as black and white" and "you conservatives" in the same sentence.

    September 4, 2007 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  20. Anonymous

    How to get votes? Tell people what they want to hear. ACT. Isn't that right Senor Romney?

    The guy has no clue

    September 4, 2007 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  21. rick, kc, mo

    What part of ILLEGAL immigrants is so hard to understand. Anything less than prosecution to the fullest extent of the law is a slap in the face to law and justice. No country in the world would let someone illegally enter their country and demand citizenship and all the benifits it affords.
    Plain and simple. No debate needed.

    September 4, 2007 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  22. Heather, IL

    Yeah, okay Mitt..... this coming from the same person who hired illegal immigrants to do his yard work knowingly. Why don't we stop listening to these politicians telling us what we want to hear, and try looking into their background and voting record a bit?

    September 4, 2007 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  23. Been There, San Bernardino, CA

    Aaron Kinney wrote:
    "It's not like THEY chose to be illegal anyway!"

    Who did? I certainly didn't! That sounds like a personal choice to me. I went through the legal process and would expect them to also!

    And the president of Mexico criticizes us for hurting their economy by tightening our immigration process? Wow!

    Making things "legal" does not solve problems.

    Mitt is correct – amnesty is NOT the answer.

    September 4, 2007 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  24. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Why is Mitt so anti-immigrant? It's ok for mormons to take over Utah from the Ute indians but god-forbid hard working people want to live and work in this country that came from somewhere else?

    September 4, 2007 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  25. Roderick Davies, Tempe AZ

    In response to Aaron Kinney when he sais, "Where will we fill those jobs once we make them leave? We are dealing with record low unemployment and its not like US citizens are rushing to garden, clean, farm, and do all the other tough jobs that immigrants do." Isn't that the same argument the South had when the North wanted to outlaw slavery? Looks like the past years have worked out ok! If you read Romney's points on his website he clearly gives a detailed plan on what to do with those already here including ID cards and worker programs. This article is simply pointing out high points of his speach and great "one-liners." Just do some research before you make comments.

    September 4, 2007 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
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