Mitt Romney said in Monday's GOP debate that he favors what he calls "self-deportation" over policies that require the federal government to round up illegal immigrants and return them to their home countries.
"The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here," Romney said.
Romney's answer came after he was pressed on how he could be in favor of illegal immigrants returning to their home countries and applying for citizenship while also saying that he does not want the federal government to round people up and deport them.
Romney said that if employers enforce high standards for legal documentation of their employees, potential illegal immigrants will not be able to find work. He says this will allow the federal government to avoid having to round up people because they will leave on their own.
The federal government has previously experimented with a trial self-deportation program under the Bush Administration. It gave illegal immigrants up to 90 days to leave the country but was scrapped after two-and-half weeks in 2008 when it only produced eight volunteers. That left federal immigration officials vowing to intensify their efforts to track down illegal immigrants _ a policy Romney has said he does not support.