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Romney in AZ Today: Will He Flip-Flop on His Past Support for State’s “Show Me Your Papers” Immigration Law?

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Today, Mitt Romney heads to Arizona for multiple campaign events.  Against the backdrop of next week’s U.S. Supreme Court argument in U.S. v Arizona, the Romney campaign yesterday attempted to distance the candidate from his past support of Arizona’s “show me your papers” immigration law.

The stakes are high.  Last weekend, at a closed door fundraiser, Romney noted that maintaining his current low level of polling among Latino voters “spells doom for us” and hinted at trying to move away from the hardline immigration positions he adopted during the primary campaign.

And then, as the New York Times reported today, “On Thursday, campaign aides said Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, was not referring to the most draconian portions of Arizona’s immigration law when he said during a debate that Arizona could be a model for the nation.  He was referring specifically to the ‘E-Verify’ measure that requires employers to check the legal status of job applicants electronically.”

Whatever he meant in the moment when he called Arizona a “model,” Romney can’t run from his statements in support of the controversial Arizona immigration law that has been challenged by the Obama Administration and will be argued in front of the Supreme Court next week:

  • Romney told a town hall audience last September that, “I support the Arizona law by recognizing what Arizona has done—underscored the failure of the federal government to do its job.”
  • In his campaign announcement highlighting the endorsement of Arizona-law legal architect Kris Kobach, Romney noted his support of Arizona’s approach to “illegal immigration,” noting, “With Kris on the team, I look forward to working with him to take forceful steps to curtail illegal immigration and to support states like South Carolina and Arizona that are stepping forward to address this problem.”  Note: South Carolina’s law is a copycat of Arizona’s “show me your papers” law.
  • Romney said in February at a Republican debate that “the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona and other states that are trying to do the job Barack Obama isn’t doing.”
  • In an interview with Arizona reporter Brahm Resnik last September, Romney said (approximately one minute into the conversation), that he doesn’t want to “bring lawsuits against states that are basically putting in place efforts to try and secure the border because of the failure of the federal government to do its job.”
  • Romney infamously called for “self deportation” during the primary season – the policy vision that is at the heart of the Arizona SB1070 approach and championed by Romney supporter/advisor Kris Kobach, among others.  As AZ SB1070’s lead sponsor, Russell Pearce, said in an interview with the Washington Post this April, Romney’s “immigration policy is identical to mine…Attrition by enforcement.  It’s identical to mine – enforce the laws.  We have good laws, just enforce them.”  Pearce also stated, “I don’t want to take credit for being there and helping him write it, but much of his policy was modeled – by people who I’ve worked with – after my legislation.”

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