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.

“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.

It’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?

Photo by Gage Skidmore.

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  • Victoria Sethunya

    In the Standard Examiner last week it was reported that Chris Herod, Republican Representative in Utah said that he would work towards an immigration bill that would impose fines on those who have overstayed their visas as well as create a transitory period after which there would be an “understanding” that immigrants had to return to their home countries. In fact this is the ‘self-deportation’ policy that is being advocated for by Potential US President Mitt Romney.

    In order to effectuate this policy those targeted would endure cruel treatment for which there is no legal recourse This treatment would force people to move away from places of harsh treatment. President Pierce planted the seeds for these ad hominem policies in Arizona. Utah became infected and hence mushroom bills such as the one under the authorship of Representative Sandstrom. His bill proposed hunting “undocumented” children from schools. He also authored a bill that would give police Federal powers to inquire about immigrations status. All these were hailed as cruel and unjust. Romney ‘self-deportation’, and a commandment to make others feel unwelcome is under the same umbrella.

    Unfortunately the world wide web makes it possible for these acts of injustice and ignorance spread faster than any other dogma sold in campaign speeches giving them the attention they need

    How would can anyone imagine a US leader and a world leader who contemplates uprooting families here in the US to look for the same things he or she is looking for?

  • Cortez

    This is excellent news, but it’s sad that some continue to support the illegal activity conducted by these individuals. They’re creating real victims and I wish someone stuck up for those who are having their IDs stolen and financial life destroyed.

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