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The One Mexican Border-Crossing Immigrant Family That Tancredo Likes? The Romneys

Perhaps it's not just Tom Tancredo who needs a quick reminder of the Romney family history?
 
 
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Tom Tancredo, the only candidate for president from either party to declare himself in opposition to legal immigration, and to have a specific aversion to Mexican immigration, dropped out of the presidential race last week. Then he did something quite odd -- he endorsed Mitt Romney, the only candidate whose father was born in Mexico and whose family made use of the porous border to immigrate between Mexico and the United States.

Tancredo made his endorsement because he was enamored by Romney's recent -- apparently hypocritical -- conversion on immigration. Romney has been running ads across Iowa decrying what he now believes is the horrible impact of "illegal immigrants."

Well here's a little fact check for Tancredo.

Mitt Romney's father George was born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1907, the son of Gaskell Romney and Anna Amelia Pratt. Three generations of Romneys lived in Mexico because Miles Park Romney, a polygamist, moved the family there in 1884 as it became increasingly clear that the U.S. government would not tolerate polygamy in the Utah Territory. The 1882 Edmunds Act stripped polygamists of the basic rights of U.S. citizenship, denying them the right to vote, serve on juries or hold office. Not dissimilar to current immigration raids, U.S. federal agents hunted and arrested polygamists. Polygamists were forced to leave the country or risk jail.

Miles chose to leave the country, bringing his multiple wives and children with him across the southern border. In his 1902 book The Story of the Mormons, author William Alexander Linn states that the "Secretario de Fomento of Mexico" related that "The laws of this country [Mexico] do not permit polygamy," and that the contracts for the establishment of Mormon colonies in Mexico required the same. If true, Miles Romney then knowingly arrived in direct violation of Mexican immigration law.

Henry Fernandez is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress focusing on state and municipal policy.

 
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