Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Nightmare Ahead: What a Romney-Rubio Presidency Would Mean for Immigration
Press Release

RELEASE: Nightmare Ahead: What a Romney-Rubio Presidency Would Mean for Immigration

Listen to press call audio here.

Read the full issue brief here.

Washington, D.C. — With Rick Santorum out of the GOP presidential race, Mitt Romney emerging as the likely 2012 Republican presidential nominee, and rumors swirling about Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) as Romney’s potential running mate, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released the issue brief, “Nightmare Ahead: What a Romney-Rubio Presidency Would Mean for Immigration” on a press call with San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro. While legislative accomplishments are hard to come by or to predict, it is likely that both a mandatory E-Verify program and a DREAM-less DREAM Act would be on a Romney-Rubio administration’s legislative agenda.

Both Romney and Rubio talk about E-Verify, the nation’s flawed, internet-based work-authorization system, as a solution to the nation’s undocumented immigration issue by requiring it be implemented by all employers in the hope that undocumented immigrants will self-deport. Rubio is one of 11 co-sponsors of S. 1196, a bill by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that would make E-Verify mandatory for all employers. Similarly, in the Mesa, Arizona, Republican debate in February, Romney told the audience that, “I will make sure we have an E-Verify system and require employers to check the documents of workers, and to check E-Verify.” Implementing a mandatory E-Verify program would cause job losses for more than three-quarters of a million legally authorized American workers—including citizens—because of mismatches between their information and what is on file with the government; would decrease federal tax revenue by $17.3 billion over 10 years as workers move off the books and into the underground economy; would cost the government more than $1 billion over five years; and would cost small businesses $2.6 billion per year to use the system. All for a system that catches unauthorized immigrants only 46 percent of the time—meaning that more than half of unauthorized workers will get through the system without a problem.

The bipartisan Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act would give a pathway to legal status to the estimated 2.1 million undocumented children who were brought to the country at a young age and who graduate from high school and complete some college or military service. Even though 91 percent of Latinos and 58 percent of the general public support the DREAM Act, Romney has made his opposition clear. In restating and answering a question from the audience at an appearance in Iowa, he said, “If I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it? And the answer is yes.” Romney has said that he would support a military-service only version of the DREAM Act, but as Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) points out, “Making military service a requirement for those who were raised here does not make sense because not everyone desires to serve or is qualified to do so.” Likewise Rep. Gutierrez argues that “risking one’s life should not be the only route to receive legal status.”

Rubio has of late softened his strict opposition to the DREAM Act, but even he is unwilling to support the full DREAM Act because of the misguided idea that the DREAM Act would cause further “chain migration” of unauthorized immigrants (where immigrants gain citizenship and then bring their family members to America). The idea of mass chain migration is a myth: According to the most up-to-date projections by sociologist Bin Yu, the average immigrant brings only 2.1 family members to the United States over their lifetime. What’s more, this process occurs over decades—as former Immigration and Naturalization Service Official Stuart Anderson has pointed out, it takes a minimum of 19 years for a U.S. citizen to bring an adult child from Mexico. Under the provisions of the DREAM Act, it would take at least 11 years just for an immigrant to obtain citizenship, a prerequisite to bringing one’s parents over—to say nothing about the availability of a visa. Nevertheless, Rubio has stated that he will support a version of the DREAM Act that gives legal status with no possibility of earning citizenship. Rubio’s plan would force the 2.1 million undocumented students into a second-class status for life instead of allowing them to become full and equal members of society. In short, a Romney-Rubio administration would end for good any possibility of passing the DREAM Act. We can also be certain that a Romney-Rubio administration would adopt the following regressive administrative priorities:

  • Support for states seeking to pass anti-immigrant laws similar to Arizona’s S.B. 1070
  • Implementation of a comprehensive self-deportation strategy for undocumented immigrants in which the government would make life as miserable as possible to try to force undocumented immigrants to leave the country on their own
  • Elimination of prosecutorial discretion that helps enforcement agents prioritize serious criminals over nannies and busboys
  • Construction of another 1,400 miles of border fencing despite the exorbitant cost

Voters should ask themselves whether they want to support a potential administration with immigration positions far more extreme than their own. Do they support candidates who would reject the DREAM Act, push self-deportation and E-Verify on the nation, and make Arizona a model for the country at large? Do they support the purported “small government” candidate who would spend more than $5 billion to build a fence, spend billions of dollars more in deportation and enforcement costs, and lower government revenues by $17.3 billion over a decade through mandatory E-Verify use? Because that’s what they’d get with the Romney-Rubio ticket.

Listen to press call audio here.

Read the full issue brief here.

To speak with CAP Action experts on this topic, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or cdipasquale@americanprogressaction.org.

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