Throughout the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney has taken a very hard line on illegal immigration. During one debate, Republican Governor Rick Perry called for some compassion for children of illegal immigrants, who did well in school and joined the military. Romney fired back that he would send them all back—all 11 million illegal immigrants.
Romney even used the term “self-deport.” He described that as going back across the border by your own volition until you are approved to enter the U.S. legally.
What’s funny is that this idea was lifted from a cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, who suggested it as a joke. Every alien knows that once you go back across the border you lose whatever capital you had earned towards eventual amnesty.
Then, on Friday, July 17, 2012, Romney suddenly backtracked, saying he supported educational permits for children of illegal immigrants and, eventually, work permits. That move by Romney was in response to being outflanked by President Obama.
Earlier in the day, Obama changed the entire national debate on immigration.
He established a Homeland Security directive that allows children of illegal immigrants to register and get work permits if they go to college or serve in the military. Millions of people nationwide hailed this as a victory for young Latino adults, who are loyal American citizens.
Within this swirl of hubbub, Romney stumbled through the Sunday talk shows looking perplexed. He refused to answer the question of whether he would nullify the president’s order if he won office. Instead, Romney disparaged the president for making a stop-gap measure that doesn’t solve the overall immigration issue in the long run.
He muttered that sure, it’s a good thing that these loyal American children of illegal immigrants have hope and can now work. But then he said that nothing actually had been resolved.
This is a far cry from what Romney said on January 27, 2012 -- the 11 million illegal immigrants must return home and reapply for U.S. residency permits. This flip-flop does, however, fulfill a pledge made by Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's senior campaign adviser.
Fehrnstrom said on March 21 that Romney’s policy positions in the primaries would be swept off the table after he won the Republican nomination. Fehrnstrom compared it to shaking up an Etch A Sketch game.
The picture you drew disappears so you can draw a new one. This leaves voters wondering what Romney’s thinking. Perhaps during the October presidential debates Romney will reveal his actual policy positions.