GOP candidates embrace Ariz. immigration law, Romney calls state a “model”
GOP candidates are looking to prove they’re tough on immigration to the conservative debate crowd. (Flickr)
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were quick to remind the Arizona GOP debate crowd that they’re tough on the immigration issue.
When asked to explain his recent use of the term “severely conservative” to describe himself, Romney voluntarily brought up the fact that he allowed state police to enforce immigration laws as governor of Massachusetts and worked to implement English-language immigration.
Gingrich decried the fact that President Obama sued Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) over her immigration crackdown law, SB 1070, and said the notion that the U.S. is incapable of securing the border is “utterly stupid.”
Later in the debate, Romney praised the state’s own E-Verify system as a “model.”
“I think you see a model here in Arizona,” he said of the system.
Romney, like Gingrich also said that the federal government should get out of the way of Arizona’s enforcement of 1070.
“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,” he said.
Romney, who backs the “self-deportation” concept underpinning the Arizona law, said he would drop the lawsuits against the 1070 law, complete the border fence, and mandate E-Verify nationally.
‘You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration,” he said. “It’s time we finally did it.”
Newt Gingrich later dodged when he was asked about Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) claim that some in his own party have used inflammatory rhetoric on immigration.
‘I don’t know who he’s referring to, so I’m not going to comment in general on a statement,” he said. “Is there somebody somewhere who’s done that? Sure.”
The former Speaker flipped the script, saying it was also “intolerable” for president Obama to give a “demagogic” speech on immigration in El Paso last May.
In a question from CNN moderator John King that pushed the limits on immigration policy, Rick Santorum said he would not ask individual homes to use E-Verify on potential household employees. But he said, like Gingrich and Romney, that he also supports completing the border fence.
He also voiced the strongest support for the SB 1070 law out of any candidate.
“I think what we need to do is to give law enforcement the opportunity to do what they’re doing here in Arizona and what Sheriff Arpaio was doing before he ran into some issues with the federal government, which is to allow folks to enforce the law here in this country, to allow people who are breaking the law or suspicious of breaking the law to be able to be detained and deported if they’re found here in this country illegally, as well as those who are trying to seek employment,” he said.
Update: The Democratic National Committee went on the offensive against Romney on immigration, using clips from his Arizona in a minute-long web video.
And the Obama campaign released a three-minute long web video contrasting the president’s stance on the DREAM Act with Romney’s.
This article was updated and corrected at 10:50 PM. It previously said that Mitt Romney referred to Arizona’s SB 1070 law as a “model.” He was referring to the state’s E-Verify system. Additional quotes from all candidates were added.