Monday, January 30, 2012

Mitt Romney on Immigration: Four New Takeaways and Gutierrez’ Reaction

Based on media coverage, it would be easy to conclude that “self-deportation” is the centerpiece of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s position on immigration. It turns out there is a lot more to it than that.

On Friday, Romney spoke about immigration to an audience of over 600 Hispanic leaders at the Hispanic Leadership Network, a center-right advocacy group, conference in Miami. The conference was co-chaired by former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Here are four takeaways from Governor Romney’s remarks followed by Secretary Gutierrez’ reaction.

Takeaway #1: Legal immigration is good, it’s important, it’s an advantage, and America needs it.

Takeaway #2: To protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration.

* Build a better fence.

* Have enough personnel to protect the border.

* Put a card and verification system in place that works, allowing employers to know immediately whether or not a job applicant is authorized to work.

* Crack down aggressively on employers that hire people who are not authorized to work.

Takeaway #3: Implement constructive solutions for people waiting to immigrate legally and for people who immigrated illegally and live in the U.S.

* For the 4.5 million people waiting to immigrate legally, make legal immigration easier and more transparent.

* For the 11+ million people who immigrated illegally and live in the U.S., they’d need to get a temporary work permit, return to their home country to apply for residency (“self-deportation”), and get in line with those waiting to immigrate legally.

Takeaway #4: Substantially expand legal immigration, including implementation of a program that matches visas to employers’ needs in all sectors.

Governor Romney concluded his remarks by saying, “We are not anti-immigrant. We are not anti-immigration. We are the pro-immigration, pro-legality, pro-citizenship nation and party.”

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez is Vice Chairman of the Institutional Clients Group for Citigroup and is Honorary Co-Chair of Mitt Romney’s National Hispanic Steering Committee. Secretary Gutierrez served in the Bush Administration from 2005 to 2009 and was in office during the last major attempt to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Prior to serving in the Bush Administration, he was Chairman and CEO of the Kellogg Company. His cabinet-level experience in government and C-level experience in corporate America give him a unique perspective on immigration, both in terms of politics and in terms of business.

When asked about Governor Romney’s remarks on immigration, Secretary Gutierrez said, “What I heard the Governor say this morning made a lot of sense. He’s talking about a national immigration strategy to put all of the pieces together because he recognizes what I haven’t heard anyone else recognize, which is that immigration is a strategic advantage. If you do it [immigration reform] in a piecemeal way, every piece becomes a political football. It becomes a tactical game in which Hispanics are being used. The important thing that I heard the Governor say, and it just shows that he’s a strategic thinker, that he has been working in business, that he knows how to think about problems in a strategic way before going down to the tactics, is to have a national immigration policy."

President Obama made a campaign promise to take up comprehensive immigration reform during his first year in office. That didn’t happen, but what has happened since he took office is that a record 1.2 million illegal immigrants have been deported. When asked about President Obama’s record on immigration, Secretary Gutierrez commented, "I've talked to a lot of Hispanics who are very frustrated, they feel like they’ve been taken for a ride. They were promised everything. He had the presidency, he had both houses, and he had popularity. It’s a matter of how important it [comprehensive immigration reform] was to him and it wasn’t that important to him because there are no results."


U.K. plans to “cherry-pick” immigrants

The aim is to keep the numbers down, attract the very best

Wealthy immigrants and “world class” artists, musicians and intellectuals are to be given preference under plans designed to attract “the brightest and best” to Britain while keeping out those likely to be a burden on the state.

Immigration Minister Damian Green on Sunday said he would soon announce new rules as part of what he described as the “transformation of British immigration policy,” under which “fewer but better” migrants would be allowed to live here.

The move sparked accusations of “cherry picking,” with critics arguing that it would discriminate against people from poorer countries.

Under the proposed “selectivity” policy, the latest in a series of changes introduced by the Conservative-led coalition government since it came to power less than two years ago, those lacking the kind of skills that Britain needs to boost its economy and spouses of immigrants already settled in Britain would face tougher controls.

“What we need is a system that… goes out to seek those people who are either going to create jobs or wealth or add to the high-level artistic and cultural aspirations we have,” Mr. Green told The Sunday Times.

He said the new policy was aimed as much at bringing down the immigration levels as promised by the Conservatives in their election manifesto as at attracting only the very best.


“Getting the numbers down is the absolute key but what I am aiming at is fewer and better,” Mr. Green said.

Tougher controls will mean that foreign spouses of British citizens would have to prove that they would be able to support themselves and not end up relying on state benefits.

The family would be expected to show a household annual income of £26,000.

“The idea of coming here from day one and living on benefits: people will think that's unfair… The family will need to show it can support them,” said the Minister.

New rules would also make it more difficult for those on work visas to qualify for British residency.

“You have to show genuine serious usefulness to British society. What we are saying is: if you are a particularly exceptional person we will make it easy for you to come here in the first place and we will allow you to stay for a certain amount of time and in some categories we will make it easier for you to stay here,” Mr. Green said, arguing that the era of mass immigration was “over.”


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