Lake Buena Vista, Florida (CNN) – In a speech to a skeptical audience of Latino leaders outside Orlando Thursday, Mitt Romney offered few specific on hot-button immigration policies but said he could be a compelling alternative to President Barack Obama.
The presumptive GOP nominee told the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials he would streamline the process for family members of legal immigrants to enter the country, and would adjust upward the caps on immigration and temporary visa allocations for some countries.
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But Romney skirted the headline issue this month: Obama's recently announced order that would effectively allow the children of some undocumented workers a path to legal status.
Romney criticized the president's move as being "temporary" and a nakedly political calculation, while not detailing how he would propose to address those illegal immigrants afforded temporary status under Obama's new policy.
"Last week, the President finally offered a temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election," he told the Latino leaders seated around tables in a cavernous ballroom. "As President, I won't settle for stop-gap measures. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution."
Romney's speech, given one day before President Barack Obama was to address the same group, took aim at the incumbent Democrat for failing to turn around the economy.
"This isn't an election about being a Republican, Democrat, or an independent. This is an election about the future of America," he said. "Is the America of 11% Hispanic unemployment the America of our dreams? We can do better."
The Latino leaders in the audience listened politely to Romney's speech, but the response was markedly less enthusiastic than what the GOP candidate has enjoyed at many of his recent events.
Romney took a hard line stance on immigration throughout the Republican primary season. He promised to veto the DREAM Act, legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants.
"The question is if I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it and the answer is yes," Romney said in Iowa last December.
In recent months, Romney has softened that view, indicating he might be open to a Republican version of the DREAM Act that was being drafted by rising GOP star, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Earlier this week, Rubio's office said the senator had shelved the proposal in response to the president's move on deportations.
In a statement, the Obama campaign immediately circled back to Romney's pledge to veto the DREAM Act.
"After seven days of refusing to say whether or not he'd repeal the Obama administration's immigration action that prevents young people who were brought here through no fault of their own as children from being deported, we should take [Romney] at his word that he will veto the DREAM Act as president," said Obama for America Director of Hispanic press Gabriela Domenzain.
In a policy session at the conference just hours before Romney's scheduled speech, a labor organizer with the Service Employees International Union blasted Arizona's immigration law and other "copycat" laws across the country as legalizing "racial profiling." Romney has said he supports the Arizona law but does not see it as a model for the country.
Eliseo Medina, the Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU, warned more Latino leaders will settle their differences over immigration policies at the voting booth in the fall.
"There will be many more of us in 2014, 2016, 2020 and on into the future," Medina said.
While some Republican leaders are adamantly opposed to any effort to provide a path to legal status for the undocumented, other GOP lawmakers are looking to Romney for guidance.
"I think we're going to wait until we hear what Governor Romney has to say on this issue," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said earlier this week.
"There may be others behind me who want to address it. But my view, he is the leader of our party from now until November and we hope beyond," McConnell said.
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I really can't believe the profound amount of mitt that flows from his mouth.
The ONLY reason he's anywhere in the polls is because that's what the GOP has given the people. Far too many vote strictly for the party without reason... without thought. Go to the light...
One for all and all for me > the GOP
Talk about 'out of touch!" Where was mittens in 2010 when the Dream Act was filibustered by Senate Republicans? Where was mittens in 2011 when the Dream Act was reintroducted, but the Republican senators who originally for the bill, where now against it? The only reason we don't have a permanent Dream Act now is because of Republican legislators. Obama is doing what he can within his executive authorities, despite the opposition by Mittens' party to the Dream Act. It is the height of both stupidity and hypocricy to now criticize Obama for no permanent solution
Listen, for the next 2 years the kids of illegal immigrants, Latino, Chinese, Haitians, Koreans, Russian, Ukranians, etc... cannot be deported and those of working age get a work permit. Obama has won the Latino vote, it will give him the win come November. Not much Romney can do.
Democrats have always kep their poor and needy base poor and needy to trot out at election time... I think the hispanics see the deceit and will vote for someone who willl actually get something done.
RINO RINO RINO RINO RINO. First amnesty for illegals and next gun control. GOP made big mistake. I will never vote for this loser RINO RINO RINO........
The more Romney talks, the more I want Ron Paul as president. However, voting for Ron Paul would guarantee another 4 years of Obama, which would finish the USA. At least voting for Romney will slow the damage being done.
He (Robney) will tell you anything to get your vote. WHAT has he done to earn your vote today? What will he actually DO if he were to be elected? Most important................What has his (Robney) track record been so far? Trust none of the answers are in favor with the 'common folks'.
Myviews, you need to grasp the bigger picture of Latinos and their contribution to society.
How do you think the grapes for wine get to the wine makers? Do you eat fruits and vegetables? How do you think those get to the grocery stores? Or all across the world for that matter. In Georgia, their peach harvest this year is going to be really tough. Their immigration laws outlawed the immigrant population and all the latinos move away.
Please educate your mind. Yes, what you said about being on Govt assistance is there for a small percentage of the people, but most all Latinos I have met are extremely hard working, dedicated and loyal to their employers. People immigrate to this country for the opportunities it has. Just like you said you immigrated, was it not for a better life?
Mitt Romney has the upper hand on this, and Obama missed the opportunity. Obama thought he was cute in granting no deportation to illegal alien children of parents that brought them into the US in the first place. However he said nothing about the parents of these 16 to 30 year olds likely because he really does not know what he talks about.
Someone put it up on a teleprompter and he read it. Mitt Romney doesn't need a teleprompter.
Families are far more important to Hispanics and even the Asians than individuals entering countries illegally for themselves only.
Everyone in Congress respects FAMILY .............. I hope.
With Mitt Romney President, and regardless of who is controlling the House or Senate, it can be a very bipartisan Immigratioin Dream Act. Who dreams of immigration that does not include all family members?
We already have a path to citizenship for foreigners who serve in our military. So, good job Romney for proposing something that already exists. You assume we don't know this already, or do you not know this exists?
Make sure that Rush, Trump, Hannity, Rove, and the Tea Party support your position NitMit. They are the conscience of your Party.
Well Mitt, maybe if you didn't break up companies and ship them to China and India with your Bain cronies, we might have some more jobs in America. But you thought first of profits for yourself and your investors and said "to hell with the workers", money for me is better. Well Mitt, I think that's not what America is looking for. You can't run as a job creator when you shipped and abolish jobs in America. Even in Government, you were a dismal failure in creating jobs, 47th out of 50 states. That's no badge of honor or accomplishment to be proud of. Regardless of what you say, your reputation and track record gets there before you and tells the real story. Mitt, just go away and play with your money like you did in that picture at Bain. We know the deal.
The speech sounded great and as I could almost vote for Romney. He is running even with Obama in Michigan polling. The problem is that many of us no longer trust Republicans after republican governor Rick Snyder ran on a ticket of lower taxes then acted with the Republican legislature to impose high new taxes on retired pensioners on fixed incomes. At least we know Obama is an ineffective leader with good speaking abilities, but a party that imposes high new taxes on persons on fixed incomes while giving new breaks to the rich simply cannot be trusted.
He's maintained different positions at different times. This ideology is in sharp contrast to Conservative principles, and can only resonate with those who believe this is really a promise.
Hispanic knows better!
What can i say about Mitt romney. Well first of all lying blatantly to the american people because he thinks we are dumb and stupid even a retarded person knows where he stands on immigration issues. During his primary campaign this guy made it clear that he will veto DREAM ACT bill that comes to his table if he becomes the president keep dreaming. secondly he supports arizona bill, thirdly obama has tried to advance the DREAM ACT bill but republican obstructionist have filibustered it , the only executive power which he has is what he just used to at least stop the bleeding. Republicans keep drinking coolade and keep going far right of american ideas. Your voters are shrinking and shrinking , keep taking care of the 1% who are trying to buy thier way to this election. America is changing rapidly and there is nothing you can do about it. Republicans have not passed any bill that they can boast of creating jobs, they ve refused to hire police and firefighters and look at what is happening in colorado. but they can give taxbreaks to the people that doesnt need it. Since bush tax cuts can anyone tell me how many jobs have been created, we have tried this but it never worked because the rich doesnt really spend their money much to stimulate the economy. I am an independent voter and a well informed voter and i know who repesents the ideals of american people here.
cali girl – Thank you. You are correct about the illegal immigrants working the fields, unfortunately, those are really a few in comparison (who by the way are not treated very well by the other illegal immigrants) to those that do not work or do work and still try to squeeze all they can of our government programs. As you said I am not an American born so I have an easier time getting to know them.
kingsley, I could not agree more. Actions always speak louder than words and with Mr. Romney the words change every week.
Mitt has selectively forgotten that it is the Republicans who blocked and is standing in the way of the DREAM ACT. What the Repulicans are doing to this country is TREASON. Why are they not being called out on this? Am I the only one who knows this. Everything they are accusing the President of doing to this country they themselves are doing.