June 15th, 2012
04:21 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney: Obama immigration move makes long term fix harder

(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."


Filed under: 2012 • Immigration • Mitt Romney
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. allens

    this is sickening, regardless if it is election time nonsense or he really believes it is the right thing to do. i will not be voting in this election. first time in 9 election cycles. very dissapointing

    June 15, 2012 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  2. works4me

    Negative comments from Romney... from the GOP? Naaaa, can't be true.

    June 15, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  3. Debby

    WEll Romney is right in this economy, its not really a handout as the hispanics don't get high paying jobs, but Obama is giving hope to the young hispanic community in a bad economy which right now is useless.

    June 15, 2012 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  4. Texas Gal

    This is just amnesty through the back door. WHy even have immigration laws when nothing is enforced. This will now make the job harder for immigration officers. ILLEGAL IS ILLEGAL. Seems like no one understand this.. Also the parents of all these illegals knew perfectly well that bringing all these their kids into the USA for a free education paid by American taxpayers that they would eventually get amnesty some day..

    June 15, 2012 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. ciabella23

    Heard Mitts Birth Certificate was found to be not real...

    June 15, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. Steve Lyons

    He want's then to vote even though they are illegals and NOT legal US Citizens.

    June 15, 2012 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. DJ Reality

    Here one for the conservatives in the crowd who like to use morality and the Bible in their arguments. Here is one on treating immigrants Leviticus 19.33 " 'When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. I don't think conservatives like or practice this one at all..

    June 15, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  8. gthog61

    obama just told the young actual citizens of the country who are having trouble finding work to go pound sand. He needs the votes and he figures you are probably stupid enough to vote for him anyway.

    June 15, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  9. west coaster

    Had the Republicans done their job and represented the and not their corporate masters, then the President's Dream Act would have been law years ago and PBO's actions today would have been unneccesary.
    Romney's dance with the far right continues–and this from someone with relatives in Mexico who escaped US government repression of their religion. Can we say hypocrite? Yes–Mitt Romney!

    June 15, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. snowdogg

    " his Republican challenger for the White House said the United States needed a longer term solution to the problem."

    OK Mitt, what is your program... and I mean with ALL the details!

    June 15, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. Anthony Seta

    Bogus claim about 'making long-term fix harder'. Just lame on the spot sputterings from a man who was hoping to just talk about the economy.

    A long-term fix should now be easier. Republicans are backed into a corner. Therefore they should resign themselves to the President's plan and intentions with the Dream Act and just nullify the advantage that this legislation gives to the Democrats. It's a lot to swallow, but so what! Otherwise the nasty internecine feud within the R party will begin in earnest between those that see the latino community as the future against the traditional GOP base voters who want nothing to do with this bloc of the electorate.

    On this front of the 2012 campaign war, the democrats can simply lock shields and absorb the thrusts and assaults from the opposition, while the opposition itself begins to fight amongst each other. The AM talk radio wing of the GOP is far different than the beltway intelligentsia GOP. This is a good move politically by the president. He should have done this about 5 months ago.

    June 15, 2012 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  12. Bob Ramos

    When it comes to immigration policy, Romney simply does not have one or wants one. All Latinos can do is go by his public statements in that he does not want comprehensive immigration reform – short term or long term. He established his hardline anti hispanic positions both in 2008 and during this year's primaries.

    Obama himself did not come up with the announced policy. The DHHS did because their budget is limitted and they have to allocate their resources. So now, they will go after the bad guys and not after good people that not only do no harm but the USA a lot of good. All of the anti immigration hot air you hear today are just sour grapes and the fear that Latinos will not vote for the Democrats putting them out of business. That fear is well justified.

    June 15, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  13. KM

    Romney has consistently been against amnesty. Call it what you will, this initiative by the POTUS is a veiled version of amnesty. It is also an attempt to circumvent having to fully embrace amnesty before an election and damage his standing with moderates while pandering to the Latino vote. Make no mistake, this is an election year shenanegan and has nothing to do substantively with real immigration reform. Those who continue to claim there isn't a problem should contemplate what effect this measure will have on those children who are just arriving in the US and those who will arrive in the future. This measure creates more problems than it solves.

    June 15, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. FLMom

    I would love to have something for FREE Mr. President...but I guess I didn't do things right...I came to this country LEGAL. I came to get a better education while working TWO jobs in order to fulfill my needs., WHILE my husband was FIGHTING for our FREEDOM in IRAQ. I worked really hard to be able support my husband to get his JD. While pregnant, I WORKED UNTIL the day before giving birth,,,and all so that others, YOU didn't have to pay for my food or health insurance. My husband now works really hard so we can afford the almost 700 dollars in health care a month. We have worked hard!!! I consider myself a hard working person, smart and with dreams. But lately with your policies I am starting to think that I must have done something wrong or backwards...because everyone else that hasn't worked as had...gets everything easy and for FREE!!!!

    June 15, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  15. Of course

    Who would have guessed Mitt would think it was the wrong way and likely to lead to devastation if not reversed by him. IF Mitt was to be elected he will do many things that many of his supporters will have to justify to others and themselves just like with Bush, you'll have to call very non conservative things conservative. Hopefully he won't get the chance, I don't think this country can take another round of deregulation let wall street and banks run wild to crash later after all the biggies make the big bonuses on the losses we all would have to eat.

    Go Mitt – anywhere but the presidency gggooo Mitt you cult elite.

    June 15, 2012 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. Foaming Mad American

    What I want in a president, is someone to stand up in front of congress, put them in their place, telling them that the free ride at the tax payers expense is over, and start serving the public in the manner in which the Constitution has laid out. Stop doing only the things that they want, in the manner in they want to do them. It is time for the President to start being the leader of this nation, instead of being a puppet to the politically correct and the special interest. It is time to stop saying enough is enough, and start actually doing something to fix nation.

    June 15, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. miles

    Game, set, match? Like usual Mitt-flip di not answer the ? " If elected pesidend would you repeal the order? He cant think on his feet he has to be told what to say.

    June 15, 2012 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. marctheduck

    Fix? LOL! I think Mr. Romney misses the point entirely. Mr. Obama wasn't trying to fix anything. He was trying to win some quick votes the easy way. LOL!

    June 15, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  19. Sheri Lee

    To the Right wingers Compare those deported under Obama. To those deported under Bush and tell us who deported more illegals. Why should these kids that Obama is making legal. Be punished for their parents breaking the laws coming to this country illegally?????

    June 15, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  20. d

    "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.

    I assume Mr. Romney is talking about himself, as a subsequent president who would reverse the order.

    June 15, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  21. Jim

    NOT! Long term plan has been on the table for years all the way back to Bush and McCain were on board until at least for McCain it became a political liability per his interpretation. Obama should be applauded for putting this out there and making congress hopefully take up this problem. If congress would do its job on not only this but ALL issues in front of them this country could really be on a path to sustained recovery. But the "just say no" attitude is the law of the land today and they should all be put out of office and start term limits to limit this partisan attitudes.

    June 15, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  22. Ed

    Only 4 months. 3 weeks until election day. Please let it be over. Romney might win if he makes a strong VP pick and if the economy stays bad and he does nothing really stupid, so a lot needs to go right for him. I'm betting 2:1 today for another term for Obama, because a lot has to go wrong for him to lose. Look at the electoral calculator. I can also see a tie at 269 votes each, wouldn't that be fun?

    June 15, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  23. Ed

    Mitt – "It's the economy, stupid" Still true 20 years later. Hint, hint.

    June 15, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  24. Sirned

    Good. Instead of continuing cheap labor for companies to exploit we now have new taxpayers that will help stop the heme raging of decent wages that threaten all of our wages..

    June 15, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  25. Atanu

    Only a "foolish" President could ignore sizable chunk of Hispanic and Latino votes – surely Obama proves once more he is not. Thanks.

    June 15, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
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