What The H… Happened To Immigration Lehrer?

Jim Lehrer
By Felicia Persaud

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 5, 2012: The first Presidential debate in Denver, Colorado was advertised as the one to focus on domestic policy, meaning all “public policy, decisions, laws, and programs made by the government which are directly related to all issues and activity within the country.” Yet somehow the esteemed moderator, Jim Lehrer, missed this definition.

The PBS News editor instead spent the entire one-and-a-half-hour on letting the candidates slug it out – well Mitt slugged and Obama seemingly turned the other cheek – on open ended questions on the economy, jobs and taxes.

Totally ignored was the issue of immigration, a disappointment, especially since the debate was held in Colorado, a state that is home to thousands of Latinos who are undoubtedly the swing voters in this election.

Sadly the millions watching never got to hear Mitt on this issue. So let me fill you in on what Lehrer robbed us of and stupidly spared Mitt from.
Here are the facts from some of Mitt’s own debates in the Republican Primary from just less than 10 months ago.

In January in South Carolina, asked about solving illegal immigration, here’s what he said: “The issue of illegal immigration is relatively straightforward … You build a fence. You have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence. And you also have a system of giving to people who come here legally an identification card, and you expect employers and insist that employers check that card before they hire someone.

“If they don’t check the card, if they don’t run it through the U.S. database and get an instant response from the government or from MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or whomever, then those employers are going to get severely sanctioned. If you do that, we solve the problem of illegal immigration.”

On dealing with illegal immigrants in the U.S., he stated: “And with regards to those that have come here illegally now, we’re not going to round them all up and deport them, but we’re also not going to give them a preferential pathway to become permanent residents or citizens. They need to go back home, apply for citizenship, apply for permanent residency, like everyone else. Coming here illegally should not give you an advantage being able to become a permanent resident of the United States.”

Later in January in Tampa, Florida, he had switched his position somewhat, stating: “Well, the answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here. And so we’re not going to round people up.”

Instead, he now claimed: “The way that we have in this society is to say, look, people who have come here legally would, under my plan, be given a transition period and the opportunity during that transition period to work here, but when that transition period was over, they would no longer have the documentation to allow them to work in this country. At that point, they can decide whether to remain or whether to return home and to apply for legal residency in the United States, get in line with everybody else. And I know people think but that’s not fair to those that have come here illegally.”

And if it was unclear then to anyone listening, Mitt added: “Well, you know, I ran for president four years ago. This was the position I described when I ran four years ago. I wrote a book, laid out my position. I actually agreed, I think, with what you just said, which is I believe those people who have come here illegally should not be given a preferential path to become permanent residents or citizens of this country.”

By February, he was back to reiterating his hard line approach in Mesa, Arizona and applauding the harsh Arizona law. “You know, I think you see a model in Arizona,” said Romney. “They passed a law here that says — that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on e- verify. This e-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who’s here legally and who’s not here legally.
“And as a result of e-verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent, where the national average has only gone down 7 percent. So going back to the question that was asked, 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.

“And I will drop those lawsuits on day one. I’ll also complete the fence. I’ll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence. And I will make sure we have an E-Verify system and require employers to check the documents of workers, and to check E- Verify. And if an employer hires someone that has not gone through E- Verify, they’re going to get sanctioned just like they do for not paying their taxes.
“You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration. It’s time we finally did it.”
So there are the facts in Mitt’s own words. Need I say more?

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.