Analysis: Could Romney Pass Immigration Reform in His First Year?

Ted Hesson, ABC News, October 17, 2012

In a night of heated exchanges at the second presidential debate, a question about immigration thrust the issue into the limelight for the first time in the debate season.

The candidates largely stuck to their talking points. For Mitt Romney, that meant reiterating that he wouldn’t round up millions of people for deportations. President Obama, meanwhile, spoke of wanting a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding undocumented immigrants.

After calling out the president on his failure to deliver immigration reform in his first term, Romney added, “I’ll get it done. I’ll get it done. First year.”

So what would it take for Romney to actually pass an immigration reform bill during his inaugural year? {snip}

1. A Consensus on What Constitutes Reform

Just like any sweeping legislative package, immigration reform is a different thing to different people. The reform plan proposed by George W. Bush (and defeated in 2007), would have created a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented people in the U.S.

President Obama considers such a pathway part of comprehensive reform. But Romney has repeatedly said he does not support amnesty, which, in a historical context going back to the Reagan years, has been understood as a large-scale legalization program.

So before a discussion about immigration reform can get very far, Romney has to be clear about what he would do with the 12 million undocumented people in this country, if not offer them “amnesty” or some other form of citizenship.

2. Cooperation from Congress

You may get your own jet and entourage, but being president comes with a few limitations, namely having to work with a bipartisan Congress to get legislation passed. And as President Obama can tell you after the Obamacare saga, tackling a giant issue with one big reform bill can make for some rugged negotiating and grumpy people on both sides of the aisle.


3. The Economy Would Need to Get Better

Whether or not you believe economic growth is necessary for a reform bill to pass, it seems to be a requirement for some conservatives.

Take Grover Norquist, for example: Last week, he spoke at a conference about the need to encourage immigration to strengthen our economy and the fabric of our society. In an interview with ABC/Univision after the speech, however, he stressed that the poor economic conditions over the past four years have made it impossible to have a serious dialogue about immigration reform.

The logic: With unemployment rates that have hit 10 percent during the past four years, elected officials aren’t willing to spend political capital on the legalization of 12 million people, when constituents are worried about the economy and jobs.


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  • Mercerian Jed

    Romney will make George W. Bush look like a saint.

    We all know it’s true and are just waiting for the other shoot to drop if he wins.

    An Obama victory will be better for us, because we can then blame the black privilege Affirmative Action Diversity for the  disaster.

    With Romney, we will only get to blame our White selves.Obama 2012!, even though I won’t vote for him, because I refuse to enable BRA Diversity. 

    I’ll never vote AGAINST my racial cousin so I can be ruled by a kunte kente bantu zulu mau mau buck nasty voodoo Diversity.

    NEVER.  I’m genetically disabled from voting for N.

    • IstvanIN

       You may have a point, Romney is a genocidal Republican, but I can not bear to vote for Barry.

  • this article is dumb. all of the GOP positions  and ideas are on the party platform or the Romney website, the first of which was made by Kobach the maker of SB1070. “immigration reform” is also a term used by anti-illegal immigrant FAIR to describe more restriction etc…

    • GOP positions and ideas are on the party platform

      “Meaningless piece of paper.” — Bob Dole, in 1996, when asked about the Republican party platform that was significantly more conservative them his own positions

      Kobach the maker of SB1070

      I said what I’m about to say here on AR a few weeks ago.  It’s one of those things that I can say what I know but I can’t yet if ever say how I know it.  But what I know is that Kris Kobach and Mitt Romney have not had anything more than an incidental short conversation on anything much less immigration since not long after the Ohio Primary (March 6), and shortly after that Santorum dropped out essentially making Romney the winner.  Now, what does that indicate to me that Romney and his “chief immigration policy adviser” haven’t talked about anything much less immigration in six and a half months?  It indicates to me that Romney’s embrace of Kobach was only as long as it needed to be and as superficial as it needed to be in order to get Romney the nomination.  Now it’s “Kris who?”

      Several weeks ago, Romney said that he would not reverse Obama’s executive order DREAM amnesty.

  • Puggg

    If Romney wins then that means at least the House will stay Republican.  No amnesty bill will get out of the House.  What you have to worry about, though, is if Romney continues the policy of executive branch non-enforcement of immigration laws.

    • Actually, we may be better off with Obama.  If Romney becomes as open-border as George W. Bush was (and Obama is), maybe 1/3 of House Republicans will melt on the immigration issue and end up siding with fellow Republican Romney on amnesty.  However, you can expect almost all Republicans in the House to fully stand against Obama on any amnesty plan.

      • That’s exactly right. The GOP will then be able to pander to hispanics by saying it was they who delivered amnesty, not the democrats.

  • The real question is : how is Romney’s jump shot?  If he can sink a few threes in wingtips, the bruthas will give him his props.  

  • tickyul

    YUP, I hate both the Demorats and the Republirats.

  • Immigration reform shouldn’t be done all in one shot. I hope the GOP learned a lesson from the Obamacare debacle. Big issues need to be dealt with incrementally. 

    • IstvanIN

       Agreed.  Can you imagine if Kennedy actually attempted mass genocide in 1965?  He was smart and planned for it to unfold over a long period of time.

    • We do not need “immigration reform” aka amnesty, we need immigration
      enforcement and it needs to be done ASAP! Why should enforcing the rule of law  be done “incrementally?” The overwhelming number of Americas
      want the law enforced and invading squatters deported.

  • IstvanIN

    Nope.  We need to end all legal immigration.  We need to begin deportations.  Stop birth-right citizenship, retroactively if possible.  Stop all naturalizations.  Get rid of green card holders. No welfare or SSI for the foreign born.

  • IstvanIN

     Or just concede that we made a major mistake, give up some territory and regroup into a homogenous US.

  • puffdaddy

    Can someone please tell Mitt Romney and his running mate that Hispanics are NEVER going to vote for Republicans and they do not “naturally have conservative values.” Please.

    • They can vote Republican, but it won”t happen by pandering, because the Dems will always outpander and you can’t get more open-border than open-border.  Also, the GOP loses votes when it tries to pander as they end up dispiriting whites and decent minorities when they leave principled immigration policies.  Republicans just need to persuasively argue the truth that open borders hurts everybody’s quality of life.  Let the Dems be the party that wants to turn U.S. cities into Bangladeshi slums via open borders immigration–this is a winning issue for the GOP that will resonate with many Americans of all backgrounds.

      • puffdaddy

        They’ll never do what you suggest, although it’s a great suggestion. However, every survey (Pew, etc) and actual behavior demonstrates that Hispanics vote Democrat if they vote at all, and they vote Big Government. That will not change, even if they enter the middle class. Likewise, many Asians, including successful ones, believe in Big Government. 

        • The reason why the GOP will never do that is because the elite GOP is roughly as open border as the Dems are.  They would rather lose elections to the Dems than have immigration reduction–for example, after establishment candidate Jack Ryan bowed out of the 2004 Illinois Senate race against Obama, the GOP deliberately chose no-way-he-was-going-to-win Alan Keyes as a replacement, because the 2nd placed candidate in the GOP primary, Jim Oberweis, was a strong proponent of illegal immigration reduction (

          Still, for Big Government-voting minorities, Republicans can make a compelling case that Open Borders will cause the EBT cards to stop working–that would grab their attention.  I’m not suggesting the GOP can ever get more than half of the minority vote, but you can get a lot more of them via the truth than by trying to outpander the Democrats, and energize a lot of the white base as well.  As for liberal columnists that repeatedly advise the GOP to try to outpander the Democrats instead of arguing their convictions forcefully, in general, it’s not good to take advice from one’s enemies. 

    • That’s right. Ronnie Reagan gave invading squatters amnesty back in 1986. How did
      hispanics demonstrate their appreciation? By calling the GOP “racists” and demanding
      another amnesty for their invading brethren some 25 years later. Except now, it
      is not 5 million demanding amnesty, it’s 30 million. Amnesties do not create “reform;”
      they simply lead to more invaders crashing our borders and demanding amnesty.

      • puffdaddy

        So what can we do? 

  • Anan7

    This is deeply frustrating.  Romney is obviously just as anti-White as Barry is.

    The Republicans actually sued to get the only, I mean ONLY closed borders candidate (Virgil Goode) out of the race in PA.  The Republican party needs to go the way of the Dinosaur or the Whigs so something better can take its place.

    America, however, is a dead dream of generations past.  It is too full of ‘diversity’ to accomplish anything meaningful anymore.

    White separatism is the way of the future.

  • IKantunderstand

    You know, it’s really easy. Every single racial, ethnic, religious group, (however they define themselves) are going to look out for, and support (vote for) their own people. We White people in the U.S. are now completely screwed. We don’t identify as being White(if we ever did, that has been beaten out of us), we don’t identify anymore particularly with being Christian (and no, just believing in God does not count), we are told that wanting to puke watching two men kiss on a T.V. show  means WE have have a moral deficiency, if we think that single women having babies is a sign of moral degeneracy, WE are the ones who are wrong, if we think rap “music” is vile and actually, non-musical, well, once again, there is something wrong with us. If we think everybody dressing like a  slob, wearing tattoos , and having piercings is disgusting and revolting and anti-social , well,  we need to embrace the future, because we are just old White people, who are scared to face the future! I got news for you, oh wondrous progressives. You ain’t “progressing. What happens, when humans are allowed to marry animals? Pedophilia is declared “normal”? Women can so called “marry” a goat,  five men and a partidge in a pear tree? And men, can do the same?  You don’t think this will happen? Then you tell me, based on history,  where do you think “progress”  is headed? Where else is the territory that we can “progress” into? NOWHERE BUT DEGENERACY!!!!!!

  • Annis Isbell

    Why would anyone think that Romney will defend our borders?  He will be too busy killing Iranians and getting our children killed will he not?

    Why not encourage support for the American Third Position Party rather than pretend that there is any difference between the major parties?

  • I disagree.  Obama’s a domestic policy guy and has never bought into the neocon agenda–needlessly antagonize relations with our should-be Russian friends by deploying missile defenses in Poland, parrot dubious neocon propaganda about Iran, get us deeper into Afghanistan, go after Syria, etc.  Romney has also made clear that he’s for major defense expansions at a time our military really needs delarding.  He’s personal friends with Netanyahu from when they worked together in the 1970’s, so may be more suspectible to his “bomb Iran” pleas, and may prove too quick to paint himself into a corner with threats and ultimatums to Iran.  Romney’s thankfully not as neocon as John McCain, but I still trust Obama more on foreign policy.  If you’re no longer interested in seeing the bloodshed of Americans in the Middle East in order to prop up Muslims (and paying for same), Obama is more your man I would say.

    • Obama’s implicit “he’ll keep us out of war” promises sound so Woodrow Wilsonish to me.  Prediction:  If he wins, we’ll have major boots on the ground on the other side of the world within a year.  My bet is either Mali or Kenya.  Already, the French are sending drones to Mali, which is fine by itself, but we’re sending “advisers” (sound familiar?) to supplement.  Franco-American occupation, advisers?  All adds up to Vietnam.