(CNN) – More than five hours after news broke of President Barack Obama's shift in immigration rules, his Republican challenger for the White House said the United States needed a longer term solution to the problem.
"I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered, and should be solved on a long term basis so they know what their future would be in this country," Romney said after a campaign stop in Milford, New Hampshire.
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The president's decision will allow people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military to apply for a two-year deferral from deportation.
Romney said Obama's move puts a damper on development of a longer-term plan.
"I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long term solution because an executive order is, of course, a short term matter and can be reversed by subsequent presidents," Romney said.
Obama's immigration policy is a directive from the Department of Homeland Security, rather than an executive order, though it could still be reversed by future presidents. Republicans have sometimes criticized Obama for issuing executive orders, saying he's ignoring the Constitutional requirements of lawmaking by bypassing Congress.
The GOP White House hopeful continued by praising Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a campaign surrogate and the topic of frequent speculation for Romney's vice presidential pick.
"I would like to seek legislation that deals with this issue and I happen agree with Marco Rubio as he looked at, considered this issue, he said that this is an important matter that we have to find a long tem solution," Romney said.
Romney, who recent polls have shown facing a sizable deficit among Latino voters, has made attempts at reaching out to the important and growing voting bloc. In April, he attended a business roundtable in Tempe, Arizona, and told participants he would look for ways to assist young people in the United States illegally.
"I'm not worried about our generation," Romney said in April. "I'm worried about the youngsters here. They're bright, they can help carry this country forward in a way previous generations have and I think they do need some assistance and some recognition for the work they are doing in school."
In December, Romney said he would veto the DREAM Act if he were president, saying instead he would support a path to residency – not citizenship – for those who served in the military, but not other DREAM Act proposals.
"I'm delighted with the idea that people who come to this country and wish to serve in the military can be given a path to become permanent residents of this country," he said. "For those who come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of law."
Later, Romney gave a more detailed version of his stance, tell supporters at a fund-raiser in Florida Republicans needed to offer their own version of the DREAM Act.
"We're going to be able to get Hispanic voters," Mr. Romney said at the private event, which was overheard by a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. "We're going to overcome the issue of immigration."
Rubio has already offered his own version of the act that would not provide citizenship, but instead give legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents when they were minors.
Romney has not come out in support of Rubio's measure, saying only that the two have spoken about the proposed legislation.
"He [Rubio] and I have spoken about his thinking on his version of a different act than the DREAM Act that's been proposed in the Senate," Romney said in April at a campaign event in Pennsylvania.
He continued, "The one that's been proposed in the Senate creates a new category of citizenship for certain individuals. The Senator's proposal does not create that new category but instead provides visas for those that have come into the country that came in as young people with their families."
At a Republican presidential debate in January, Romney said he favored a system of "self-deportation," a policy that involves making economic conditions so difficult for undocumented workers that they choose to leave the country to find better opportunities.
That stance was derided both by Democrats and his Republican rivals. Then-candidate Newt Gingrich said it was unrealistic to think immigrants would leave the country voluntarily.
"You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic $20 million income for no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said in an interview with Univision. "For Romney to believe that somebody's grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this is an Obama-level fantasy."
Romney has said he supports building a border fence, saying such a move was necessary to prevent an influx of illegal immigrants.
"I believe that to protect legal immigration, we have to stop illegal immigration," Romney said in January. "And for that reason, I would in fact build a fence, and I would have enough border security agents to make sure that we are able to protect the border, and I will put in place a system that allows employers to know who's here legally and not."
Obama's campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt wrote off the Republican's remarks in a statement Friday.
“During the primaries, Governor Romney called the DREAM Act a handout and said he would veto it," LaBolt wrote. "His ‘solution’ to our immigration challenges was self-deportation. Today he continues to refuse to express support for legislation that lets children who were brought to the U.S. and want to contribute by pursuing higher education or serve in the military stay in America."
Bill Burton, senior strategist for the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, echoed LaBolt.
"Mitt Romney says immigrants come to American because they 'are looking for a free deal,' he calls the DREAM Act a 'handout' while promising to veto it, and he boasts about being more extreme that John McCain, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich," Burton wrote. "Instead of proposing any ideas to reform immigration, Mitt Romney is more interested in questioning the character and motives of families who are working towards the American Dream."
Some of you have made a valid point, if Obama can ignore Immigration Laws then can Obama and we ignore all other laws? If Obama is going to show sympathy to some then he should show sympathy to everyone, so can we begin to ignore credit, mortgage, IRS, Healthcare, social security, driving laws? I think it would be nice if people would also get a break from these laws. Why should these kids, young adults be the only ones to get sympathy?
With one speech President Obama just made Marco Rubio totally irrelevant. It would make for better theater if the GOP still picked Rubio for the VP slot. Just imagine Grandpa Munster and Rubio trying to explain to Hispanics why they should vote the party who wants them to work without out rights or get deported. Ha ha! Good comedy.
Well, at least w know now that Obama wins Florida. All the illegals there that can't be purged from the voting ranks.
Romney can't be specific, because the truth is whatever HE proposes will another GOPer ideological plan sprung on the citizens. (ergo: voter ID's, "improvements to Medicare(privatization, vouchers), and Collective bargaining disenfranchisement).
You can give credit to Romney for not lying, but not for having a credible plan to discuss on the campaign trail.
He's more of an "empty suit" every day.
An immigration policy based on lines on a map is not a valid policy. Romney has says he thinks people will "self-deport" if economic conditions are bad enough...(WHAT! and and go to Mexico where it's "better" for them?????
Romney and reality may be words close to each other in the dictionary, but Mitt must be kidding us!
Talking about flipping! WOW!! This is the mother of all flips from the Deporter in Chief!!
To all you Barack Hussein Kardashian Kool-Aid drinkers you define the fact that you can't fix stupid!
The problem is not immigration. The problem is not non-citizens taking advantage of social programs, that is just a consequence. The issue is taxation. If employers weren't forced to pay absurd payroll taxes to cover government programs, then there wouldn't be a market for workers that aren't paid off the books. End the nanny state and the taxes that fund it and you will employ more Americans.
This is as bad as his stance on the Affordable Health Plan. Romney says as President he'll do away with it. Well, that will sure fly in face of the Oath of Office to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. Come on Mitt, it's the law!!!!! Your obligation as President is to "uphold the law". You don't get to pick only the ones you like!
Once again, President Obama is announcing that he will not do his job.
The Legislative branch makes the laws.
The Executive branch enforces the laws.
The Executive branch does not get to pick and choose which laws it wants to enforce.
The President signs bills into Law or vetoes them.
Mr. Obama, if you wanted to Make the laws, you should have stayed in the Senate.
Or, use your community organizer skills (ie Leadership) to mediate a deal in the Congress to pass a bill that you can sign into law that you will enforce. In other words, do your job to lobby the Congress to pass the Dream Act.
Obama gave Latino nothing today, but what amounts to a 2 year stay of execution for someone on death row, nothing more.
In reality, it's just the opposite of Romney's claim. This young group of illegals, if they qualify, would have never been thrown out anyway. Therefore, it makes it easier for congressional republicans to 'handle' the remainder.
Romney has flip flopped again after taking extreme position on immigration in the primaries. Even for a politician Romney's flip flopping is extreme.
@ Patricia Thomas – are you just plain nuts or is is that you don't comprehend well? Romney did NOT agree with Nobama!
Isn't Etch-A-Sketch born of a mexican immigrant?
Hey, Mitt you liar, let's see that birth certificate, boy!
Are you kidding me? Romneys reaction was like listening to a street person with a mental illness trying to explain something.
Obama just won the election for Romney
Romney got "trumped" (no pun intended) because the Real President acted Presidential and Romney doesn't know what that is. Now it will be harder for him to get that Latino vote he so desperately wanted. . . Good move, Mr. President!!
This action by Obama to buy votes is wrong. The act itself is the right thing to do but not by Obama who is just buying votes for his re-election. He is not a KING. The congress NOT OBAMA makes laws and are the peoples representatives. Obama is a disgrace to all races and to all Americans even if I do agree that this action is the right action it was wrong of him to act like he is the KING and do it without congress. We were formed as a country to escape a KING now Obama has become one.
This was a typical Obama Administration non-answer to a problem. Washington is loaded up with these band-aid non-commital short term fixes, the mark of poor management. Just as another example, consider the mandate that insurance companies offer free birth control to women who work for religious organizations. It's another half-ass answer. Apparently as long as an answer is politically palatable that's good enough. It's hard to imagine how an order to not enforce a law but keep it on the books is politically palatable but I believe this will only help move Obama to Chicago in January.
More difficult to get a long term solution? Nice comeback Mitt but it probably makes it easier. Now go back and make up a new stance on immigration you liar.
So which one is Mitt's real position on this matter? Self deportation, Amnesty, or dream act? Very confusing to me
Guys, this move has won Obama re-election, Romney knows it as well as Marco Rubio. Obama has just won the Latino vote and they are hugh in numbers. I don't understand why you guys keep arguing. Lets just congratulate Obama and move on.
not being a wise guy just not to up on the policies but if they are illegals that can't vote right? So obama just pick up votes from people who can't vote......personally I am voting for Elvis :)
If you republicans would pay attention these young folks would know their future if the republicans would pass the legislation before them now. You people pretend to be offended because Obama " broke the law". You are prejudiced people who do not like anyone " foreign". Where in God's name do you think you came from? Immigrants from the other side of the world who were NOT Americans!! Who knew how many of your ancestors were "illegal". It makes me so angry because you hide your prejudice.
what a weak response by Mitt...surely he can do better?