Getting down to brass tacks: just what does Gov. Mitt Romney want to do with the 12 million+ undocumented immigrants inside the United States? This is an important question for the substance of the GOP primary debate, but it's also one that the Romney campaign needs to have answered -- that is -- it behooves them to leave open any room for misinterpretation.
GOV. ROMNEY: Now let's, now let's look at those very carefully, OK, and you're, you're a careful reader. In the interview with The Boston Globe, I described all three programs that were out there, described what they were, acknowledged that they were not technically an amnesty program, but I indicated in that same interview that I had not formulated my own proposal and that I was endorsing none of those three programs. I did not support any of them. I called them reasonable. They are reasonable efforts to, to look at the problem. But I said I did not support--and I said specifically in that interview I have not formulated my own policy and have not determined which I would support. And, of course, the Cornyn proposal required all of the immigrants to go home. The McCain proposal required most of them to go home, but let some stay. And the Bush proposal I, frankly, don't recall in that much detail. But they had very different proposals. My own view is consistent with what you saw in the Lowell Sun, that those people who had come here illegally and are in this country--the 12 million or so that are here illegally--should be able to stay sign up for permanent residency or citizenship, but they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to say here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally. And that, I think, is the great flaw in the final bill that came forward from the Senate.
MR. RUSSERT: But they shouldn't have to go home?
GOV. ROMNEY: Well, whether they go home--they should go home eventually. There's a set per--in my view they should be--they should have a set period during which period they, they sign up for application for permanent residency or, or for citizenship. But there's a set period where upon they should return home. And if they've been approved for citizenship or for a permanent residency, well, thy would be a different matter. But for the great majority, they'll be going home.
MR. RUSSERT: The children they had born here are U.S. citizens, so do the children stay here and the parents go home?
GOV. ROMNEY: Well, that's a choice, of course, the parents would, would make. But my view is that those 12 million who've come here illegally should be given the opportunity to sign up to stay here, but they should not be given any advantage in becoming a permanent resident or citizen by virtue of simply coming here illegally. And likewise, if they've brought a child to this country or they've had a child in this country, that's, that's wonderful that they're growing their families, but that doesn't mean that they all get to stay here indefinitely. We're fundamentally a nation of laws.
So, from this, we can discern that Romney wouldn't order the Border Patrol to round up all of them and throw them out immediately.
In that process, the illegal immigrants would not be given any preferential treatment for coming here illegally. It would take LONGER for their citizenship claims to process.