Mitt Romney In 2007: Citizenship For Illegal Immigrants

In an obvious, and I must say well-played effort to push back against the criticism he’s getting over his immigration comments last night, the Newt Gingrich campaign is sending around this video of Mitt Romney in December 2007 where he appears to endorse the idea of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants:

The Romney campaign is pushing back on its own with a citation to the full context of what Romney said that day on Meet The Press:

My own view is, consistent with what you saw in the Lowell Sun, that those people who had come here illegally and are in this country, the 12 million or so that are here illegally, should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship, but they should not be given a special pathway, a special guarantee that all of them get to stay here for the rest of their lives merely by virtue of having come here illegally, and that, I think, is the great flaw in the final bill that came forward from the Senate.

So the context of Romney’s quote is that he isn’t in favor of a “special pathway” for illegals to obtain citizenship, but he also seems to be making clear that, at least in 2007, he didn’t favor deportation or massive crackdowns against said immigrants. So, it seems like he’s actually saying here that he kind of agrees with the position that Gingrich was taking last night.

Chris Good tries to summarize where this leaves us:

1) Newt Gingrich opposes “amnesty” for illegal immigrants, but he says there should be exceptions. Specifically, Gingrich holds that any “reasonable person” would be hard pressed to tell a taxpaying constituent of 25 years that he has to leave his family and return to the country of his birth, after coming here illegally long ago and becoming a productive member of American society.

2) Mitt Romney opposes “amnesty” for illegal immigrants, and he says Gingrich’s idea of allowing exceptions would incentivize foreign nationals to come to the U.S. illegally.

3) Newt Gingrich opposes Mitt Romney’s 2007 opinion that illegal residents should be able to sign up for permanent residency or citizenship.

4) Mitt Romney also said in 2007 that he did not believe in a “pathway” to citizenship for illegal residents or a “special guarantee” as part of that sign-up process.

Seems as clear as mud to me, but it might just be enough for Gingrich to blunt any attacks that Romney will try to make based on last night’s exchange. Expect this one to come up at the next debate ( which will be held on December 10th in Iowa) and, most likely, to be the subject of a commercial or two before then.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Borders and Immigration, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Clearly Romney’s two percent titanium tax goes to far and Gingrich’s two percent titanium tax doesn’t go to far enough.

  2. A voice from another precinct says:

    It’s as clear as mud because it’s all blather. As much as it pains me, I have to admit that Karl Rove has the most clear views on imigration of anyone so far:

    “We need imigration reform because I don’t want my children to have to work picking tomatoes or changing sheets at a Las Vegas Casino.” (IIRC)

    Any of the dwarves willing to step up and add some candor to the debate? Hmm…? Anyone? We’ll wait…

  3. superdestroyer says:

    No matter what Romney says now, if ever given any influence on policy, we will do what his open borders, cheap labor Republicans masters want him to do and will support open borders and unlimited immigration.

    The cheap labor Republicans are either too stupid or too uncaring to think about what adding millions of automatic Democratic party voters to the country will do.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    @A voice from another precinct:

    Karl Rove does not have any children. What karl Rove wants is for the children of the Republican establishment to be patrons while everyone else is peon. Karl Rove cannot count and is following the same stupid logic that has lost California for the Republicans forever.

    If a conservative party is going to survivie in the U.S. the 12 million illegal aliens cannot be allowed to stay. Allowing them to stay while promising an infinite number of future amnesty’s means that the U.S. does not have a conservative party and that elections will be ethnic groups fighting over the spoils of government.

  5. Bill says:

    It’s just another TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT cheap hit piece.