Editor's Note: View a listing of the entire series
The Washington Post's erroneous assertion about Mitt Romney having laid claim to his father's Mexican heritage for political purposes, and his supposed lack of specificity, is simply a warm-up for its real complaint about the GOP presidential nominee.
Nor is it Republican opposition to "most reforms"; after all Gov. Romney and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) each have embraced some form of immigration status regularization of those brought here illegally as children. And Romney is already on record as saying that if a foreign student gets "an advanced degree, I'd staple the green card to their diploma."
The Post complains that Mr. Romney has not put forward a detailed blueprint "to solve … America's broken immigration system."
You can bet that anytime the words "broken immigration system" appear, calls for legalization of America's 10-12 million illegal aliens now living and working here won't be far behind, and you would be right!
The Post editorial makes it quite clear: "the main hurdle to a meaningful deal on immigration — one that would tighten enforcement and acknowledge reality by extending some form of amnesty to 11 million undocumented immigrants — is the uniform opposition of congressional Republicans, including those who once favored such an approach."
Well, there you go. The GOP base is against granting some form of amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens. This is the Post's singular, narrow understanding and definition of "reform". Nothing else will do; nothing else matters.
Help illegal aliens brought here as children, which Mr. Romney has said he supports? Not good enough.
Reform the premises of our immigration policy toward rewarding those with skills and needed experience (stapling those green cards), as Mr. Romney says he supports. Not good enough.
Mr. Romney, in his Univision interview made a point that is almost never discussed, but is absolutely essential to understand. He said (emphasis mine):
This country lives, in part, by virtue of the vitality of our legal immigration system. But at the same time, to protect legal immigration we have to secure our borders and what I like about the Arizona law was that the measure that says we're going to have an employment verification system so that employers know who they're able to hire and who they're not able to hire. And by the way, in my view, if employers hire people that they know are not here legally, there should be tough sanctions on those employers.
Mr. Romney's most important insight here is not that we need and would benefit from having a fast, reliable system in place that would help ensure that only those legally entitled to work are able to; that much is obvious.
Basically, the core issue here is that by having millions of illegal aliens in the country, support for legal immigration is at risk. Repeated efforts by immigration advocates to secure incentives for them — whether in the form of benefiting from the country's "safety net", tuition inducements, administrative amnesties, or even efforts to allow such persons to vote — erode an immigration consensus that has been reached after an arduous historical and political journey.
Americans strongly support legal immigration. They sympathize with illegal aliens, but are not supportive of providing incentives for that group.
The Post's call for an amnesty for 10-12 million illegal aliens is not a "reform", it is an incentive, and if there is one thing that is clear in human behavior it is that if you make something more valuable, more people will try to get it.
The real "incoherence" here is not Mr. Romney's, but the Post's.
Next: Department of Preening Editorials (4): 'Self-Deportation', A Misused and Misunderstood Term