US conservative governor says skilled immigrants needed
21 August 2006
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The Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, was campaigning for re-election in California over the weekend. In his address to the California GOP convention, he said that the United States should encourage highly skilled foreigners to immigrate to the United States. This policy should be balanced with discouraging persons attempting to enter illegally and without needed skills.
"It is wrong for us to build an absolute concrete wall against those with skills and enterprise," he said, referring to foreign students who come here for advanced study, "and have a wide open door for people with no education and no skills."
The remarks were greeted with enthusiastic applause from a highly conservative audience. Illegal immigration is a hot issue for many people in several political parties, but generally the conservatives in the U.S. have been opposed to most immigration. Romney, a Republican governor in a Democratic state, is exploring a presidential run in 2008. California, a state with a very large reservoir of campaign cash, is a key stop along campaign trails.
This marks a visible attempt to change the debate from the conservative side. Until now, the Republican Party has been somewhat characterized as close-minded on the issue, with some highly visible individuals and organizations calling for expulsion of all the estimated 12 million illegal residents of the U.S. More importantly, many of the policies and legislation suggested have come across as less than compassionate toward many innocent people caught up in an election-year debate.
Gov. Romney was careful not to use what has become nearly a forbidden word in conservative and fundamentalist rhetoric this year: amnesty. He specifically called for policies to encourage new, skilled immigrants to come into the country legally and avoided any in-depth treatment of the topic regarding what to do about the illegal aliens already in the country and the estimated 400,000 who enter every year.
Gov. Romney said improving education and investing in technology was the way to keep America competitive as Asian economies grow. His strong implication is that recruiting highly skilled immigrants are part of this strategy, an idea being pushed more and more by the conservatives.
Over recent weeks, the Republican Party has suffered in opinion polls in several categories, from liberal, moderate and conservative factions in the U.S. Increasingly, they are seen as not addressing humane immigration reform on one hand, or not being severe enough on the other. The result has been a legislative deadlock as the election cycle for 2006 enters its final weeks.
More liberal parties have advocated this as part of a humanitarian, reasoned, and diversity-oriented approach for years, if not decades. Reaction in several liberal circles indicated that they feel the conservatives are attempting to assume the liberal platform in rhetoric only, while continuing to pursue the hard-line platform set forth in the Republican-lead House of Representatives immigration bill passed at the end of last year.Related:
• US census data reveals 16% immigration increase in 5 years
• US study - Immigrants probably don't take jobs from Americans
• US cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants
• Bush administration announces end of 'catch-and-release' for illegals
• US state by state immigration rules
• US Republican party shuts down immigration reform debate
• Potential enforcement and amnesty provisions from the US immigration bills