Romney made the comment to reporters after a campaign stop for state Sen. Joni Ernst (R), a candidate for U.S. Senate. He said that he hopes Congress can pass a bill before the fall, but "time is running out for that to happen."
When he ran for president in 2o12, Romney advocated "self-deportation" during the GOP primary as his prescription for reducing the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. He won just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in the general election, faring worse than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) four years earlier.
After the election, Romney told The Washington Post's Dan Balz that he was surprised by the blowback to his "self deportation" line.
"I thought of it as being a term that is used in the community of those discussing immigration," Romney said. "I hadn't seen it as being a negative term."
Romney said Friday that undocumented immigrants "should not be given a special pathway to citizenship or permanent residency," the Register reported.