Mitt Romney said Sunday he would support a Republican-style Dream Act for undocumented immigrants, a plan he previously decried as "amnesty."
But immigration hard-liner and Arizona immigration law architect Kris Kobach, whose positions Romney has adopted in the past, said on Wednesday he doesn't expect the candidate to make such a shift in position.
"I expect him to hold firm on his opposition to amnesty," Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, told the Washington Post's Greg Sargent.
The Dream Act pushed by Democrats -- and in the past Republicans as well -- would allow a slim segment of the undocumented population to gain legal status, so long as they entered the United States as children and attended college or joined the military for two years.
But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who endorsed Romney and is considered a possible vice presidential pick, attempted to co-opt the term by creating his own "Dream Act." Few details have been released so far, other than the senator saying the plan would not be "amnesty" because it would provide legal status but no path to citizenship. The concern cited by Republicans is that should undocumented young people become citizens, they could eventually petition for their relatives to become legal permanent residents or citizens as well.
Kobach told the Washington Post that any bill to provide legal status to undocumented immigrants would be "amnesty." (Republican President Ronald Reagan was the only modern president to push for, or allow, actual amnesty to undocumented immigrants.)
"I haven’t seen the details of Senator Rubio’s plan, but if it involves the giving of lawful status to illegal aliens en masse then it is unacceptable," Kobach said. "A path to legal status for someone who is here illegally is amnesty by definition. It gives the alien what he has stolen."
Romney has showed some interest in the past for supporting a watered-down Dream Act. In January, despite previously saying he would veto the Dream Act in its current form, he said he would support a bill that allowed some undocumented immigrants to gain legal status in exchange for military service.
Kobach told HuffPost in February that he didn't know whether he would be in support of such a policy.
"I'd have to see how it was framed," he said. "He just said it in broad concept, in fact I think what happened is Newt Gingrich said it and then Romney said, 'I agree with that.'"
At the moment, the Romney campaign's relationship to Kobach is complicated. The campaign appeared to disavow Kobach on Tuesday, telling Politico that he is a "supporter," not an adviser to the campaign. But Kobach has repeatedly called himself such, including after the Romney campaign stated he wasn't.
Whether the campaign calls him an adviser or not, Romney has adopted a number of ideas from Kobach, including "self-deportation," or making life difficult for undocumented immigrants until they leave. That plan, which Kobach calls "attrition through enforcement," is one of the major tenets of laws such as Arizona's SB 1070, which he helped to draft.
The Romney campaign did not respond on Tuesday to a request for comment on discrepancies about Kobach's role.