SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney on Sunday echoed President Donald Trump's call for Congress to pass immigration legislation to toughen rules on asylum.
Romney, R-Utah, said unaccompanied young immigrants arriving at the border, along with an influx of families seeking asylum, are "overwhelming our system."
"By virtue of our laws and processes here, we bring them into the country. We don't begin to have enough space in our facilities to maintain the kind of care that these people deserve, and so they're being just turned out into our country," Romney said on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday morning.
Utah's freshman senator also touched on a dialed-back law to expand Medicaid in Utah and said he would like the president to release his tax returns, but opposes a push by Democrats in Congress to obtain them.
Romney's comments came two days after Trump on Friday declared “our country is full” while in California visiting the Mexican border. Romney condemned Democrats on Sunday, saying they have treated the issue as a partisan one.
"This is a winning issue, I think, for Republicans, but more importantly, it's a winning issue for Americans to say we have to have the sovereignty of our nation. I think the president has tapped into something which the people feel very deeply," Romney continued.
He called for a border fence to be completed, along with an electronic system to document fraud by those seeking jobs in the U.S. but don't have legal status.
When he declared last year that he would be tougher than Trump on immigration, Romney said, he was referring to his own opposition to legislation granting legal residency to those brought to the U.S. as children, "but that's in the past."
"I would provide legal status for those Dreamers in the country. That's something the president's put on the table. I think we should get that job done," Romney said.
In Utah, a 2019 state law limiting a voter-approved plan to fully expand Medicaid is reasonable, Romney said. The new law cut the number of Utahns who would have been covered under the ballot initiative by about half and required federal waivers for various aspects of the program, some of which have been approved by the Trump administration. State legislators said the changes were needed to control costs down the road.
"I think it's a reasonable position that the Legislature has taken," Romney said Sunday.
On the national stage, he emphasized that he favors a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in favor of a new health care system that would give states more flexibility under private insurance.
Romney also said he would like the president to release his tax returns but is confident that the U.S. Supreme Court would not order them to be released. Romney called a push from Democrats in Congress to obtain the returns from the IRS "moronic. That's not going to happen."52 comments on this story
Romney said he doesn't agree with the president on everything. He recently told the president he's opposed to steel and aluminum tariffs, he recalled, "but on the other hand, I said, I'm overwhelmingly in favor with what you're doing on China."
The administration has imposed tariffs on China in an attempt to pressure the nation to end a trade war.
Romney said the president "has followed the Republican playbook when it comes to the domestic economy. Lowering taxes, lowering regulation. The economy's doing very, very well. It's hard not to recognize that's a pretty strong record."