Romney Adopts Hard-Line Anti-Immigrant Campaign Posture

romney self deportation
Romney Uses Restrictionist Code Words to Describe Immigration Policy

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney stole a page from the restrictionists’ playbook this week when he promoted the idea of “self-deportation” during a presidential debate. “If people don’t get work here,” Romney stated, “they’re going to self-deport to a place where they can get work.” Rather than initiate a constructive solution to our nation’s immigration problems, Romney is jumping in bed with immigration restrictionist groups who support policies that tear American families and communities apart, devastate local economies, and place unnecessary burdens on U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants.

Romney’s use of the term “self-deportation” is not at all surprising given his recent collaboration with Kris Kobach, the current Secretary of State of Kansas who continues to serve as chief legal counsel to the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), an arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Kobach, the self-professed author of several state and local immigration-control bills, advised Romney on immigration during his 2008 presidential bid and has long-promoted the strategy of “attrition through enforcement”— the immigration-control strategy to drive away the unauthorized population by making their lives so miserable that they will choose to “deport themselves” rather than remain in the U.S.

immigration impact“Attrition through enforcement” laws—like Arizona’s SB1070 and Alabama’s HB56—were explicitly designed to interfere with the everyday activities of immigrants and go far beyond denying unauthorized immigrants work. These laws deny access to housing, school, work, and even water and electricity to anyone who can’t prove legal status.  The laws’ supporters have made it clear that making people miserable and encouraging them to leave the state is the intended consequence of their policies.

michele waslinIt’s troubling that a serious Presidential candidate would adopt the code words of extremist immigration control organizations and propose that making people’s lives miserable so that they’ll leave is an acceptable policy goal.  By using the term “self-deportation,” Romney is making it clear that he is on board with restrictionists groups’ strategy to force all unauthorized immigrants to leave the U.S., regardless of the time they have spent here, U.S. citizen family members, and their years of tax contributions.

Doesn’t this country deserves to hear more detailed and thoughtful approaches from politicians and policy makers—approaches that offer a way forward rather than divisive and punitive so-call “solutions” to unauthorized immigration?

Michele Waslin
Immigration Impact 

Published by the LA Progressive on January 27, 2012
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About Michele Waslin

Michele Waslin, Ph.D., is the Senior Policy Analyst at the Immigration Policy Center. She has authored several publications on immigration policy and post-9/11 immigration issues. Ms. Waslin appears regularly in English and Spanish-language media. Previously, she worked as Director of Immigration Policy Research at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and Policy Coordinator at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. She received her Ph.D. in 2002 in Government and International Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Political Science from Creighton University. (


  1. Hey, let’s just coddle those poor lawbreaking illegal aliens. Let’s give them free housing, free heat and air conditioning, free food, free education, free medical care, free college, and of course, free legal advice on how to beat the system. Oh wait, we already do ALL of that! No wonder more keep coming every day.

    Doesn’t this country deserves to hear more detailed and thoughtful approaches from politicians and policy makers—approaches that offer a way forward rather than divisive and punitive so-call “solutions” to unauthorized immigration?

    “Thoughtful solutions” from Michele Waslin means AMNESTY and massive increases in immigration, especially of Hispanics. Why are Hispanics a priority over other ethnicities? Why are illegal aliens a priority over legal immigrants and citizens? Three words: potential voting block.

    What’s funny to me is that so many college students read this kind of drivel by pro-illegal immigration organizations and become convinced that politicians are bad if they try to stop the drain of our resources to one particular group of people. Wait until they get out of college and realize their own careers will be limited once liberals have decimated the job market by flooding it with millions of people willing to accept much less pay than they hoped to get.

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