(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.
Yeah, Romney thinks it's a political decision on the part of the President. Except he didn't mention how completely irrational his fellow right-wingers are. They wouldn't allow any legislation of any kind if it benefits the country. Romney would say anything to get elected, including "working with congress". Question: what if congress is full of zealots who swear never to work with you because they pay allegiance to Norquist? What then?
Romney's plans are based on a lot of rosey assumptions. I know he'd be the first to tell you he's worked with a democratic legislature in the past. But not one that swore to bring him down!
Money Boo Boo ran somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun on this issue in his primary, and now we're supposed to believe he'll leave the DREAM Act kids alone? I'm really beginning to assume the Book of Mormon doesn't have a Ten Commandments of any sort.
So now that it is politically expedient, Romney agrees with the Obama policy. That is the second stage of the Romney Quadruple Spin – first he was against it, now he's for it, pretty soon he will say he actually thought of it first, the he will say Obama actually agrees with him, not him agreeing with Obama. Romney = transparent and pathetic, watch the behavior, this is what you get if you vote for him. Imagine Romney being against Iran, then for Iran, then saying a nuclear Iran is actually his idea, then saying the Iranians got the idea to go nuclear from Romney.
And republican's response: Obama is a bad guy........
Same song, different day.....
liar liar pants on fire.... he will say anything to get elected – desperate!!!
But he is worse that John Kerry. Kerry lost for flip flopping for 1 or 2 things. Romney keeps on Flipin and Floppin so much he should debate himself like that comedian said. What ya gonna change next?
Just another reason not to vote for his fool. He also said in the debates he would make E-Verify mandatory nationwide and let the states enforce immigration laws but not a peep since. Just another fool who won't enforce our laws against illegal aliens (they are not immigrants-look at the law). Press 1 for English.
President Obama has been deporting people who came here illegally and then committed crimes. I don't have a problem with that.
I think it's important to note that Romney said he would not invalidate waivers for those who had obtained them. Anyone who wants one of those waivers better make sure to get one if Romney is elected (let us hope not) before Romney is president.
Mitt Romney has no shame he will promise you anything and everythig to get elected, and he will flep-flap the moment he becomes the President
"Romney would allow young immigrants granted waivers to stay."
He doesn't want to be a giver, but he says he won't be a taker. Giver gets 10 points, taker loses 10 points. Romney doesn't get 10 points, and doesn't lose 10 points. He stays at zero.
hey thats real big of him. Forward.
hey thats real big of him. Forward. romney is all things to all people. What ever you want to hear thats what he will say,Flip Flop Flip Flop. And so many fools are buying his rethoric.
Said Romney "Why would I yank those visas? I LOVE Latinos. Why I even let them stay at my many homes. And as long as they're there, I let them clean the houses and cut the grasses. Makes them feel good, you know? Makes them feel like they're taking responsibility for theirselves. Of course, after I hear from the evangelical right, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity I might have to walk the 'yank no visa' back, but what can I say? They don't call me 'etch-a-sketch' Romney for nothing."
Mr. Etch-O-Sketch in full bloom. He will eventually come full circle and reaffirm his moderate political views for the whole world to see. Tea-Partiers, there is a wolf in your hend house and he is showing his wolf ears. After all, he is a business man whose only interest in in making the sale. "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit." Jeremiah 6:13
Can't trust this man.
I don't understand... Romney already said he would get rid of it. Say anything when pandering to the extreme right and then say anything to try to get votes later from others he rejected?
"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."
What are you on about now Romney? He tried for 2 years to put the DREAM act through but you guys shot it down in flames so he responded with this. To claim he has done nothing but this is at best disingenuous, at worst its straight out lying.
Wait Mitt didn't you tell Newt Gingrich in the debates you were totally against immigration amnesty for Mexicans.....Your a liar.
Any Legal immigrant who complains about illegal immigration is either a Tantonite pretending to be an immigrant or a completely obtuse idiot. No one who has gone through the absolute bureaucratic nightmare that is the immigration system would be able to say "Hey, why don't they do it too?"
Oh, and of course. Romney Flip!
One thing consistent about Mitten is that he really want to be the president of The United States (he has been running for office for the last 7-8 years) considering the depth of his ambition can we make him the president for a day after President Obama reelected? Similar to Ann, I am also concerned about his mental health if he loses everything.
Yeah now that he is behind in the race, he wants to court Latino voters. They are not stupid like Romney thinks. This man will say anything to get votes even if it's not what he truly believes in.
Immigration is important to America. This is a good choice on Romney's behalf. America is a melting pot for culture. we cannot stop what was started on that day in 1776. American's fighting immigration, you'll find it a loosing battle in this country. If you do not like immigration, then try to make it acceptable, but it will not go away. Ever. Not in this country.
Romney will do what ever he is told to do.
Even if I were a Conservative, it would be impossible to vote for Romney because we don't know where he truly stands any issue
Romney: a pandering loser that realizes he has to catch not one but two back to back hail marys in order to just catch up with the President. Even to the point he sells himself out from past statements in order to try and get some latino votes.
What a sc umbag. If Romney wins I swear we're all done. And thanks, Romney, for insulting half the country. I guess now you actually need the "victims" to vote for you now? You know, all those that don't take responsibility for ourselves?