(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.
Voters will vote with there pocketbook
Romneys team stands outside the voting booth handing everybody
a hundred dollar bill, that would win him the election.
Its the ONLY way he will win this election.
Did you hear that, Tea Party?
Romney you are a big liar because no body's trust him go back to your teaparty principles I thought he said Romney want self deportation
The economy is not in the tank – manufacturing rebounding, employment improving etc. We were in the tank under
the GOP after 8 years of rule under G Bush. Mitt Romney will be a repeat – not for me. I want to stick with the One that's
on an upward trend. It's going to take more than 4 years to recover from the damage done to us by the GOP.
Its a little late to try a pull left.
It's the economy stupid. And under Obama's watch, the economy is in the tank. Voters will vote with there pocketbook, case closed
But it tanked before he came on board. Its better than it was in 2008.
Romney's pandering shows how desperate he is getting.
Just stick to your guns Mitt and tell the middle class that we'll be oinking from the boinking he'll give us while his 1% buddies watch.
Ah Mitt,again you have proven that you have no true ideas of your own. Just last week on Univision you were asked the questions concerning immigration and you could not come up with a clear answer. Most did not know if you were talking deportation of amnesty-So you now will agree with President Obama. This is the reason after voting for you in mass,I did not vote for you in 08,and will not vote for you now. You never seem to know where you stand on an issue,which makes it hard for the voter to understand your ideas.
Was this FLIP or was it FLOP?
I'm losing track, Mr. Romney.
Etch-a-Sketch!!! Can you really see Romney standing up to the GOP hard liners in Congress to push immigration reform? Can you see him standing up to them on anything? Really?
It just shows that both parties were co-opted long ago by internationalist types. No sane American taxpayer would ever support free stuff for non-Americans.
Your just brilliant "Generalisimo" Romney! How can anyone with a normal IQ vote for someone who does not ackowledge the existance of video technology. Your political position cycles are fairly predictable too, they should be published just like a tide chart for fishing. The only thing is fisherman should at best be expected to reel in a floater with you in a favorable tide. You have nowhere to turn to now do you? You can't get women to vote for you, blacks can smell your bs a mile away, and you can't have undocumented people working for you for "Pete's Sake" your running for office. They will be right back in your lawn as soon you win ot lose because you can't stand to pay honest American wages. Well keep on dreaming about that chair in the Oval Office, because your DREAMER STATUS IS REJECTED!!!
I guess this wasn't part of the pledge of allegiance to Norquist he signed.
Who else would Romney have clean his gutters, repair his roof and do the yard. And Mittens doesn't think that undocumenteds should be on a path to citizenship if they serve in the military. Right-wingers are real sensitive about making military service an attribute of citzenship-kind of makes Mittens service for the planet Kobol seem kind of ridiculous by comparison.
Sorry Mittens, too many people took a sniff and had to leave the room.
Minter, I think alot of folks paid attention to republicans. The economy was not looking well and people (well, I know I was) were looking into what republicans had to offer. Sadly, after the 1st few debates, it was apparent that they had very little other than I hate Obama. Huntsman, the only sane candidate, was bounce early for daring to believe in evolution.
Obama has his issues. We'd like to have an honest discussion about them. Problem is that republicans can't articulate an issue without trying to turn it into a major, campaign changing news alert. Hence things like Solyndra. Not only was that a fake hearing, it was quite ironic to hear those republicans scream about crony capitalism. And if you don't know, a simple google search will reveal all.
So now Romney won't pull the dream visas. Guess what right wingers, he isn't going to repeal Obamacare either and you should be gosh dog happy about that. Fact is, Romney isn't going to do anything he says he will do and won't even try – well, he might get us into a war or two.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
So Romney agrees with the Democrats and the 47%.
Eat poop Tea Billies – you ain't got no conservatives running this year.
And Lyin' Ryan helped Obama craft his Health Care Mandate.
Thank you Mitt. At least you have SOME common sense in there.
Oh yeah young immigrants you can believe what Romney say.You don't have to worry about him changing his mind if he wins the election. I mean Romney is a man of his word, Unshakable character, true to his belief's. He really does care about immigrant's. Oh and don't for forget he actually wishes he was Mexican. So be of good cheer Romney is going to win and make life great and wonderful for all immigrants...... I know, i know it's dripping with it.
As a billionaire casino owner, I think this is terrible! I'm only going to give Romney $100,000,000 this month.
The economy is better than the freefall it was in when Obama started, and unemployment is actually lower than when he started.
Romney is trying to tact left but teabaggers will not be happy with that. If RMoney loses, they are going to wish they had nominated Gingrich or even Bachmann.
Lol, Mitt Romney just declared that he will not deport any illegal immigrants. So all those who are rabidly jumping up and down for Romney, go ahead and vote for the non-Christian Mormon polygamist. Remember that his family did the same thing as the illegal immigrants. They just jumped the border on the other side to continue their immoral practices of shod marriage and polygamy. With this new revelation, It seems like all the Romney supporters are caught between the valley and deep-sea, lol.
This guy changes his mind on issues so much, I am confused!
Romney IQ...119, Obama IQ...137...case closed.
Both have made the border null and void and now both are trolling for latino voters.