Romney and Huntsman on Illegal Aliens

By Ronald W. Mortensen on May 23, 2011

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman have many things in common. They both have Utah roots, are members of the Mormon Church, have been governors, come from a business background, and are potential Republican presidential candidates. But when it comes to illegal immigration they are miles apart.

Romney has vetoed and helped defeat bills that would have given special benefits to illegal aliens whereas Huntsman has signed legislation that provides and protects special benefits for illegal aliens.

Romney has said that he would require all illegal aliens to return to their home countries within a given period of time. Huntsman would provide legal status for all illegal aliens in the United States.

Romney didn't have a taxpayer-funded staff member working for the benefit of illegal aliens and possibly even for the benefit of Mexico; Huntsman did.

Driver's Licenses. Romney threatened to veto a bill that would have allowed illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses. The legislation never made it to his desk. Huntsman signed legislation that created the Utah Driving Privilege Card for illegal aliens in 2005. This allows illegal aliens to drive without fear of arrest in Utah. In 2009, he signed legislation that retained the Driving Privilege Card while bringing Utah's drivers licenses into compliance with the Real ID Act.

In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens. Romney consistently and strongly opposed in-state tuition for illegal aliens. He actually vetoed an in-state tuition bill passed by the Democrat-controlled Massachusetts legislature in 2004 and his veto was upheld. In 2006, another attempt to grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens in Massachusetts was defeated when Romney promised to veto any bill that passed.

Huntsman was a strong supporter of taxpayer-subsidized in-state tuition for illegal aliens. In 2007, he opposed a bill that would have repealed Utah's special in-state tuition program for illegal aliens going so far as to say that he would consider vetoing the legislation should it pass. Huntsman's father also joined other community and religious leaders in encouraging legislators to oppose efforts to repeal taxpayer subsidized in-state tuition for illegal aliens.

287g. Shortly before leaving office, Romney signed the Massachusetts state police up for the federal 287g program that allows state and local officials to help enforce federal immigration law. Huntsman signed a bill that required the state's attorney general to help law enforcement agencies get enrolled in the 287g program. However, Huntsman did not sign the state's Highway Patrol up for the 287g program.

Amnesty. Romney has long opposed amnesty for illegal aliens. In January 2008, during a Republican presidential primary debate, he said that all illegal aliens should be given a period of time to get their affairs in order and then return to their home countries. Once home, they could get in line for a visa like everyone else. Conversely, Huntsman has long supported and continues to support granting legal status for all illegal aliens in the United States.

Governor's staff support for illegal aliens. The records do not show any support for illegal aliens by members of Romney's gubernatorial staff. Conversely, Huntsman appointed Luz Robles as the head of his Office of Ethnic Affairs. Robles used her office and taxpayer-funded resources to help defeat illegal immigration legislation while at the same time reportedly "holding a position of trust and authority with the government of Mexico."