Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney held a telephone town hall meeting this afternoon with what his campaign characterized as “thousands” of Iowans, and two of the participants pressed Romney about immigration policy.
A man named Richard from North Liberty said he had watched Tuesday night’s televised debate and the give-and-take between Romney and Newt Gingrich over illegal immigration.
“And then…on one of the national radio programs I heard a tape of you from four years ago saying you supported a path to citizenship. You know, as a rock-solid conservative what concerns me about you is you seem to change your position a lot,” the caller said.
Romney replied: “I wish you could hear the whole tape. What I said is that everybody who’s here illegally should have a path to citizenship which consists of going to their home country, applying for citizenship or permanent residency just like everybody else and getting at the back of the line, so sometimes when you hear only the first part of an answer you don’t get the full picture.”
Another woman, identified as Becky from Webster City, asked Romney for more details.
“I heard your views on immigration,” she said. “What I didn’t hear was: What are your plans to secure our borders and how do you plan on gathering the millions up to send them back to stand in line to become legal citizens?”
Romney called his approach “pretty straight forward.”
“How to secure the border is not rocket science…One, you make sure that you have a fence. Two, you have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence and the border. And, three, you make sure you that it’s easy for an employer to determine if someone is here legally or not.”
Romney supports creation of a type of e-verify system with an identification card, as well as “tough, significant sanctions” for businesses that hire illegal immigrants. Romney would support increasing the number of legal immigrants who are allowed into the country each year, as he says immigrants with advanced degrees and special skills are in high demand.