(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.
Zelig Romney strikes again. What's next? "well, gay people should have the same rights, and I'm not going to overturn what exists."? We've got 5 weeks more to hear the flip flops that Romney wears.
I'm not flipping, I'm flopping!
Don't believe anything you hear from Ryan/Romney's mouth. He is ready to deport all Mexicans. He is back peddling now because he wants to be prez. In fact, being prez is all he has ever wanted. A great resume item! You will see him back peddling on lots of things during the debates, and I hope the media picks up on it.
What people don’t realize is the 47% included everybody; the military, veterans, students, farm workers, policemen, firemen, laborers, guards, security workers, salespersons, hospital workers, office workers, part-time helpers, builders, electricians, plumbers, insurance agents, teachers, restaurant workers, factory and all industrial workers, servicers, truck, bus, taxi, and limo drives, phone talkers, servitude workers for the rich, computer operators, every level of government employees and all local politicians. Not only the current workers who pay the taxes, but also the seniors, handicapped, disabled, and diseased, who at some point in their life, paid taxes. Every decent job, every means of earning an honest living; including menial labor (the work that no one else wants to do), all are worked by middle class, and remember, for most of us it still takes 2 incomes to maintain middle-class status. Mitt was speaking (lying) to his super-rich brothers who, like him, honestly believe that half of this nation are just a bunch of free-loaders who never accomplished anything with their lives as evidenced by them not living on a level akin to theirs. They’ve always written off a good amount of the population, starting with Reagan’s acceptance of 6% unemployment as a norm, plus the high prison population, and don’t forget the homeless. This is all entwined into their thinking.
"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." Of course he didn't say anything. He was saving "yes I will" for the crowd that wanted to hear "yes" and "no I won't" for the crowd that wanted to hear "no." It's obvious he can't make a decision but when he thinks he has, he always backtracks to something else.
But as soon as those visa's expire you are out of here. That's the part he fails to mention.
OH Really!!! So the great flip flopper has changed his mind about visas. Tell me, what is going to stop him changing his mind back again? Hmmm
Dreamers will get a foot in their butts. They are here illegally. There is no way anything will pass congress that makes them legal. End of story.
Here comes the bait and switch...
Flip-Flopney has done it again, if you really hate Obama, why you trying to imitate him ?
Remember that tax returns. NOT
Who can believe any promises Romney makes. He flipflops all the time.
And Romney won't repeal Obamacare either. The only thing Mittens will do is slash taxes on the wealthy and raise them on everybody else. That is the whole of his agenda.
Romney is not going to win see how this works: by saying he will allow young illegals who came to the US as kids with the parents, to stay in the US, he is not going to get Latino votes, cause they do not trust him, since it is clearly a campaign ploy, but by doing so he will lose more of the ultra stupid (conservatives) voters.
Romney you will lose, sucker
Yeah, that what he says this week. He will probably say the complete opposite next week,
It will be interesting to see this debate considering Romney never elaborates on what he is going to do. He seems to think most Americans are too ignorant to understand details or even worse aren't worthy of an explanation. His campaigns motto seems to be elect me and see what happens. He seems to want to take us back to his fantasy American that never existed.
Translation: I want your relatives who are here legally to have a chance to vote for me before I deport you. Have a nice day.
he is just deciding this now? After many months? Sounds like mouthing just to get votes?
Romoney, corporate raider not job creator- history of Bain Capital, put 5% down in companies, get banks to come up with the rest, bankrupted companies by charging hefty interest rates, management was paid higher salaries to then cut jobs down the line unitl the company could no longer afford these interest rates. bain Capital sells off assetts or finds another company to buy up for pennies on the dollar... An amoral, offshore, pillager of businesses he had in vested interest or knowledge of – just looked at bottem line of best way to profit whether it meant the company and the hard working people who built it were steam rolled over.
The biggest problem with Mitt being a flip flopper is we never know exactly who we will be getting!
I thought ol' Mitt said that undocumented immigrants would "self-deport". Guess that idea didn't fly...
Another flip-flop and another reminder why this guy is bad news. WHERE ARE YOUR TAX RETURNS DUDE?
So Obama did nothing on immigration? How about the Dream Act. Or, perhaps, the temporrary visas whemn your GOP co-horts BLOCKED the Dream Act and every bit of immigration reform. Romney treats GOP voters like they are asinine. And, considering they still support this liar, perhaps that is perfectly appropriate.
So mini me rommy.ny criticizes the president's Dream Act, but will now adopt it.
AND he will make it much better than Obama's plans.
Isn't that called "plagiarism"? Hahahahaha At least he named the source where he stole it from...
I love the way these guys say Obama did nothing for three and a half years. What they really mean is he did not propose anything they liked so they blocked him from doing it. They tried to block the consequences of the 2008 election through their obstructionism. And they will pay a price in November? Insure their total irrelevance and fade to oblivion?