(CNN) – Young undocumented immigrants offered a two year deferral from deportation under President Barack Obama will be allowed to remain in the country if Mitt Romney is elected president, the GOP nominee said in an interview published Tuesday.
Previously, Romney had not specified how he would handle the estimated 1.7 million people who could qualify for the new rules, which went into effect in August.
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"The people who have received the special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa, should expect that the visa would continue to be valid," Romney said in the interview. "I'm not going to take something that they've purchased. Before those visas have expired, we will have the full immigration-reform plan that I've proposed."
The president's decision allows 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.
When the decision to allow the immigration rule changes was announced in June, Romney did not immediately say whether he would repeal the measure or allow qualifying young immigrants to stay in the country.
In an interview with CBS on June 17, Romney would say only that his administration would seek longer-term solutions to the problem of illegal immigration, and that Obama's new directive was a temporary fix.
"He was president for the last three-and-a-half years and did nothing on immigration," Romney said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Two years he had a Democrat House and Senate, did nothing of a permanent or long-term basis. What I would do, is I'd make sure that by coming into office I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally."
Romney said the timing of the shift, coming less than five months ahead of November's general election, pointed to political motives on the part of the president.
"I think the timing is pretty clear, if he really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, then this is something he would have taken up in his first three-and-a-half years, not in his last few months," Romney said.
As recently as last month, Romney was maintaining his stance on a permanent immigration solution, without saying clearly how he'd proceed with the new rules change.
"I will lead a program that gets us to a permanent solution as opposed to what was done by this president, which was with a few months before an election he puts in place something that is temporary, which does not solve the issue," Romney said in a Univision forum in September.
In the Denver Post interview published Tuesday, Romney continued his criticism of Obama's handling of immigration, saying he had broken his promise to enact immigration reform in his first term.
"I actually will propose a piece of legislation which will reform our immigration system to improve legal immigration so people don't have to hire lawyers to figure out how to get here legally," Romney said. "The president promised in his first year – his highest priority – that he would reform immigration, and he didn't. And I will."
Gabriela Domenzain, director of Hispanic Press for Obama's re-election campaign, wrote in a statement Romney's position "raises more questions than it answers."
"He still has not said whether he would continue the Administration’s policy that provides a temporary reprieve from deportation for young people who were brought here through no fault of their own. Would he side with his extreme anti-immigration advisors and repeal this measure?"
Both Romney and Obama are campaigning heavily for Latino voters, though polls consistently show the president with a large lead over Romney among the key voting demographic.
Romney has struggled in the past to frame his immigration positions in ways that appeal both to Hispanic voters and the base of the Republican Party. He took a hard line stance on the issue during the Republican primary, but in Tuesday's interview and in his forum with Univision, the candidate has adopted a softer tone.
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.
Later, Romney gave a more detailed version of his stance, telling supporters at a fund-raiser in Florida Republicans needed to offer their own version of the DREAM Act.
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.
CNN's Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.
So mitt once again agrees with the president. He not only changes his positions to appease whatever his current audience is, but he'll commit political suicide (agree with his opponent) to do so. Weak, mitt, weak.
wow, that's awesome, i think at this point, if your smart, you don't believe anything that romney or ryan say, they are proven liars.
In a anwer to the question posed by Mikey, Yes Romney does have a single positio he believes in and has kept for a long time. "The decision not to release his tax returns prior to 2010". Both he an Ann have showed tremendous strength of character regarding the non disclosure of this issue.
How appropriate one day before the debates!
If a immigrant fight for the USA and is willing to give his life for it, he/she deserves to be a citizen more than Romney does. Ans he says he doesnt support making them citizens
"I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was." – Mitt Romney
Etch a Sketch!
Shake and twirl the dials and write whatever helps you best at the moment!
Mitt, you have o ideas of your own! Vote any one who signed the Norquest pledge OUT!
and yeah, I will send back when I'am President, and yeah, I'll get spanked by the conservatives, but if I send them all back, that will please the conservatives, so we will just take our country back, uh, so that.........................
Romeny, please retire, you been running on empty for a long time now. Just go play water sports or something like that.
welcome illegal freeloaders – throw them out now before they start to drain my social security that I legally contributed to
If you vote for Obama, you will get Obama.
If you vote for Romney, you will STILL get Obama.
BOTH parties are the same now. Regardless of who gets elected, nothing substantial changes, just a different face to manage the decline.
It's the economy stupid. And under Obama's watch, the economy is in the tank. Voters will vote with there pocketbook, case closed.
I think Mitt should clone himself and run as a duo. We could have the centrist Mitt (who he really is), and we could put the "stupid" gene in the other Mitt so he could be pro-life, against healthcare, for war, guns and bible, tax breaks on the already insanely wealthy and all that.
Mitt says he would repeal the Dream Act....
Mitt says he would support Rubio's version, which is pretty similar...
Mitt says the president hasn't done anything on immigration....
Is it possible.....that Mitt has discovered a way to be on 3 SIDES of an issue? I think conservatives have finally warped reality to the point the laws of physics are no more.
What a pathetic, desperate attempt. Romney has no core values, only self-serving values. Even small-minded Santorum said that. Wake up, America. Romney is dangerous. Lyin' Ryan is unstable.
Aha. Sure. in two years, bye bye. LOL
The etch-a-sketch is broken.
Don't worry – he or one of his surrogates will be on radio or TV later retracting the whole thing.
I wonder how the fools at FOX News are taking it – they were throwing conniption fits when Obama did that executive order.
He is a funny guy, that Mitt. He always waits to see what Obama offered, then he jumps on the wagon and says, I will do you all one better.
The etch-a-sketch is broken.
During the debates, somebody is going to have an ear piece
so Romney can be reminded of what side of any subject he is on.....today.
Hey Mitt, you are For this, but against that,,,,,
try to remember.
Lol. It doesn't matter what Mitt says, some of you are just going to be rabid Obama lovers to the end. I'm not crazy about Romney; he and Obama both do their share of pandering (gay marriage, anyone?). They're bound to agree on some things, however. His biggest mistake in most of your eyes is having an "R" next to his name. Had it been a "D", many of you would be singing his praises. It goes both ways, as well. The point I'm trying to make is to stop being unabashedly biased political asshats. That's what's wrong with this country; people's minds are already made before any debates have begun.
Joepub, Romney made it about immigration on this, stupid.
And BTW, the economy is better off now in Ohio than 4 years ago. FYI...
Republicans cry foul as Obama administration offers to pay — at taxpayer expense — legal costs for defense contractors as incentive for them delaying layoff notices in advance of looming Pentagon cuts.
The currebt president does not have an answer yet this article slams Romney for his lack of clarity to his plan. We all know Obama bought 1.7 millikm voted with his executive order. Worst POTUS ever
Was this FLIP or was it FLOP?
I'm losing track, Mr. Romney.