(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.
democrats have been so brainwashed into believing Romney is some kind of monster, they're dazed and confused, and insist he's lying. even as their guy has yet to tell the truth about anything.
Romney will say "I don't know what President Obama said, but I stand by whatever he said".
Yeah.. in 2 years, the visas will expire, just like any other visa. Its amazing how rabid libs CNN commenters are... maybe you should look at your own guy when you want to start chewing on something?
In recent weeks, Romney has endorsed many of Obama's policies that used to be big Red Sirens on Drudge as Obama ending proposals. Interesting... wonder what he will have left to argue about in the debates.
I guess deporting more people in 3 and a half years than President Bush did in 8 years is really nothing. eh?
but here we go, Romney using another Obama idea, seems to be a trend for him... righties must not be happy, good.
So all of a sudden he want do anything to hurt the Latino vote, We got a small clip of your back door dealing Rob-man it don't work with D-man. So don't think they will fall for your lies.
I would love to see a Republican President and Republican Congress struggle to authorize $billions in new taxes to cover the costs of finding, arresting, holding, processing and deporting 12million illegal immigrants, whilst at the same time trying to prevent the red state farm lobby from having a complete meltdown, watching parents get separated from their American-born US citizen children, and spouting rhetoric about smaller government and less intrusion. And after all the hot air huffing, puffing and primping, who will be there to clean up the mess when the sh i t hits the fan ?
The plain truth is Romney couldn't say anything meaningful much less do wants is pragmatic because "47% of the country" can't think straight about immigration.
As a LEGAL inmigrant, I don't think is fair that those who came here illegally have the right to stay, no matter who the President is. I moved to the States under an H4 visa (under father's H1) when I was 17, later, my parents left but I decided to stay. Over the years, I spent thousands of dollars in education (I have 2 bachelors + Masters) and more thousands in Lawyer fees, I am 32 now, under an H1 Visa and I am still far from getting my residency (green card). I must also point that I did not want to get marry just for the green card, like many have done, so I am doing everything the way it should be, after 15 years and thousands of dollars, I am still in "process". So, why these people gets a FREE PASS to stay??? Of course we need an immigration reform, no joke
Darn if it ain't the left burning us, it is the right burning us. Why do we even support a defense, when our country will welcome invaders, and give them amnesty?
Romney says he will try for a full immigration-reform plan, yet he has said he would veto the DREAM act. This announcement by him is simply Romney trying to woo some Latino votes, regardless of the inconsistency with his previous positions.
flippity floppity flippity floppity is the sound of my sandals make when hitting the pavement.
Romney talks about the 'plan that he's proposed'. I wonder when anybody else will be allowed to see it? Because it's our votes that will or will not elect this bozo. Makes sense we should maybe be allowed to see the d@mn plans first?
Romney has just announced that he would join the Big Apple Circus after elections. He's a kind flip-flopping man.
#Bushney, Romney will argue against national Romney Care.
"Before those visas have expired, we will have the full immigration-reform plan that I've proposed."
There is no way this will happen. The Dems have wanted to put immigration reform in place for years and it's always been blocked by reps. What in the world will make people think this will happen with the polarized congress we now have? What's to stop the Dems from using the fillibuster just so they can claim he didn't live up to his promise like the reps did with the jobs bills?
Flip the Twits's conversion to becoming a Hispanic is complete, and now he is favoring illegal immigrants.
Next Week: "Mitt endorses President Obama's Health Care Mandate".
Yep ... the difference between Flip and Sarah Palin is that Flip doesn't think South Africa is an island. Otherwise ... hmmm.
Romney is just pretending to be conservative. He is really liberal. The difference is he knows how to balance the budget because he did it and he knows how to get the economy going because he has worked in the business environment and was successful.
Everyone keeps throwing stones at Romney and totally side steping the broken promise of Obama's to fix immigration his first year in term. He lied!!!!! In fact, the Obama administration has deported more immigrants than any other president. Obamacare was more important than his promise to the immigrants. He could have easily helped them in his first term.
What I think is desparate is Obama's last minute waiver of putting off deportation for 2 years and all of a sudden he approves of Gay marriage which Christians do NOT. That is deparation!!! People don't want the Goverment running their lives and Obama knows it. That is not what our Forefathers put in place for us and how dare Obama try and take it away. He is a socialist and he is invading our rights with Government.
At least Romney is looking at a long term solution and not just putting it off for another 2 years. My bet would be that Romney follows through with his promise because he will want to be re-elected in 4 years.
Now he is for everything i am for. Very soon he will be for me since i have been for these things all along.
Another Romney flip when are folks going to get this guys hidden agenda. The gap between the ultra rich and the rest of us will just get wider. Wealth is power and the people behind the GOP are power mongers from the go. Get it !
So that is what a Romney Etch A Sketch looks like!
I will never forget it Romney, you have given me so many examples.
Why is CNN NOT reporting on Obama promising the defense industry that taxpayer money will be used to pay off legal fees associated with sequestration if they don't send out layoff notices before the election??
Which Romney is are we talking about ? Seems like he is trying to do a transaction with Latino voters now by saying something they like to hear. He say so many things he confuses everyone. Please, we do not need a CEO who can make a deal to sell something for profit( in this case votes) in White House, we need a leader who understand the people.
Hey there Rom...how 'bout you STOP telling us WHAT you plan to do as president and START telling us HOW you plan to get there.
Can the Obama team show me a flip-flapping fish stragling to get out of the pot in the next commercial? it would have been hilarious. Sorry, fish I don’t mean no harm.