2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who called for a vague “self-deportation” policy for those in the country illegally during the Republican primary campaign, said Friday that illegal immigrants should be offered an eventual path to citizenship, once again entering a debate that has bitterly divided the Republican party in recent years.
Mr. Romney said he’s “absolutely convinced” the GOP must deal with the issue of immigration.
“I do believe that those who come here illegally ought to have an opportunity to get in line with everybody else,” he said. “I don’t think those who come here illegally should jump to the front of the line or be given a special deal, be rewarded for coming here illegally, but I think they should have a chance, just like anybody else, to get in line and to become a citizen if they would like to do so.”
House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, recently closed off the possibility of the Republican-led House going to a conference committee with a Senate-passed bill that, among other things, provides an eventual path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants in the country. The House has taken a more piecemeal approach and is working on individual items like border security, for example.
Mr. Romney said one place where his campaign against President Obama struggled was being able to speak “openly and effectively” to minority populations.
“We didn’t get as many African-American voters as we should have, didn’t get as many Hispanic voters that we should have,” he said. “Across the board, we need to do a better job explaining why it is that our policies will lead to higher wages, better health care, better schools.”