Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney's ancestors reportedly fled to Mexico in the 19th century to practice polygamy after it was banned in the United States, the Associated Press reported.
Romney's great grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled to Mexico after the 1882 passing of the Edmund Act, which banned polygamy in the US. He married his fifth wife after the Mormon church formally banned the practice in 1890.
The Romneys were some of the first Mormons to settle in the border state of Chihuahua, according to the AP. But, when the Mexican Revolution hit Chihuahua in 1912, the Romneys, including Mitt's father, who was 5, fled back into the US, losing their homes, farms and most of their belongings, the Boston Globe reported.
After the revolution, Mitt's grandfather, Gaskell Romney, remained in the US with his five children, but his brother, Miles Archibold Romney, returned to Mexico.
According to the Boston Globe, Mitt Romney has called polygamy an “awful’’ practice and has never visited the colony that his ancestors started in Mexico.
Today, the 40 Mexican Romneys live in solid brick homes in Colonia Juarez, some 190 miles from El Paso, Texas. According to the Daily Mail, the Mormons of northern Mexico don't practice polygamy, as the Mormon church officially banned the practice in 1890.
"It is a very open community, where we have been progressive, and we have shaped a life for ourselves, our children, that we think is a healthy life," Leighton Romney told the AP. "We have been here for generations."
Romney rarely talks about his Mexican roots on the campaign trail, even while trying to court the Hispanic vote in primary states like Florida.
Some members of Romney's family reportedly do not support the candidate's immigration policies. Romney supports a US-Mexico border fence, opposes education for illegal immigrants and recently mentioned that he supported "self-deportation," a policy that encourages immigrants to return to their home countries.
Immigration is an important topic in Florida, where Hispanics account for about 11 percent of the Republican primary voters. According to the Boston Globe, they could "provide the key to victory in today’s primary."