June 15th, 2012
04:21 PM ET
9 years ago

Romney: Obama immigration move makes long term fix harder

(CNN) – More than five hours after news broke of President Barack Obama's shift in immigration rules, his Republican challenger for the White House said the United States needed a longer term solution to the problem.

"I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered, and should be solved on a long term basis so they know what their future would be in this country," Romney said after a campaign stop in Milford, New Hampshire.

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The president's decision will allow 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.

Romney said Obama's move puts a damper on development of a longer-term plan.

"I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long term solution because an executive order is, of course, a short term matter and can be reversed by subsequent presidents," Romney said.

Obama's immigration policy is a directive from the Department of Homeland Security, rather than an executive order, though it could still be reversed by future presidents. Republicans have sometimes criticized Obama for issuing executive orders, saying he's ignoring the Constitutional requirements of lawmaking by bypassing Congress.

The GOP White House hopeful continued by praising Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a campaign surrogate and the topic of frequent speculation for Romney's vice presidential pick.

"I would like to seek legislation that deals with this issue and I happen agree with Marco Rubio as he looked at, considered this issue, he said that this is an important matter that we have to find a long tem solution," Romney said.

Romney, who recent polls have shown facing a sizable deficit among Latino voters, has made attempts at reaching out to the important and growing voting bloc. In April, he attended a business roundtable in Tempe, Arizona, and told participants he would look for ways to assist young people in the United States illegally.

"I'm not worried about our generation," Romney said in April. "I'm worried about the youngsters here. They're bright, they can help carry this country forward in a way previous generations have and I think they do need some assistance and some recognition for the work they are doing in school."

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.

"I'm delighted with the idea that people who come to this country and wish to serve in the military can be given a path to become permanent residents of this country," he said. "For those who come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of law."

Later, Romney gave a more detailed version of his stance, tell supporters at a fund-raiser in Florida Republicans needed to offer their own version of the DREAM Act.

"We're going to be able to get Hispanic voters," Mr. Romney said at the private event, which was overheard by a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. "We're going to overcome the issue of immigration."

Rubio has already offered his own version of the act that would not provide citizenship, but instead give legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents when they were minors.

Romney has not come out in support of Rubio's measure, saying only that the two have spoken about the proposed legislation.

"He [Rubio] and I have spoken about his thinking on his version of a different act than the DREAM Act that's been proposed in the Senate," Romney said in April at a campaign event in Pennsylvania.

He continued, "The one that's been proposed in the Senate creates a new category of citizenship for certain individuals. The Senator's proposal does not create that new category but instead provides visas for those that have come into the country that came in as young people with their families."

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. Then-candidate Newt Gingrich said it was unrealistic to think immigrants would leave the country voluntarily.

"You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic $20 million income for no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said in an interview with Univision. "For Romney to believe that somebody's grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this is an Obama-level fantasy."

Romney has said he supports building a border fence, saying such a move was necessary to prevent an influx of illegal immigrants.

"I believe that to protect legal immigration, we have to stop illegal immigration," Romney said in January. "And for that reason, I would in fact build a fence, and I would have enough border security agents to make sure that we are able to protect the border, and I will put in place a system that allows employers to know who's here legally and not."

Obama's campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt wrote off the Republican's remarks in a statement Friday.

“During the primaries, Governor Romney called the DREAM Act a handout and said he would veto it," LaBolt wrote. "His ‘solution’ to our immigration challenges was self-deportation. Today he continues to refuse to express support for legislation that lets children who were brought to the U.S. and want to contribute by pursuing higher education or serve in the military stay in America."

Bill Burton, senior strategist for the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, echoed LaBolt.

"Mitt Romney says immigrants come to American because they 'are looking for a free deal,' he calls the DREAM Act a 'handout' while promising to veto it, and he boasts about being more extreme that John McCain, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich," Burton wrote. "Instead of proposing any ideas to reform immigration, Mitt Romney is more interested in questioning the character and motives of families who are working towards the American Dream."

Filed under: 2012 • Immigration • Mitt Romney
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. WhatNow

    Mr. Romney only has long term plans for everything and yet we have no idea what those plans may include. The fence thing is a stupid idea. It's expensive. It's like putting up a fence in your backyard thinking it will keep the squirrels out! Good for the President for at least doing something.

    June 15, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Linda, Potomac, MD

    Obviously, a long-term policy solution is not an achievable option in the current political environment, and if it can be reversed, then why not give young immigrants some sense of assurance and continuity to gain needed skills, contribute to the economny and job growth either in the U.S. or in their home countries? I applaud the policy.

    June 15, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Greenspam

    Rmoney wants to be your President because he thinks govt is bad for you... so why run?

    June 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Patricia Thomas

    This just in - 15 minutes ago Romney now says he agrees with what Obama has don on the immigration issue. What a switch-a-roo!

    June 15, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    What policy has Romney offered other than suggesting people self deport. Congress has not had anything offered. The DREAM Act doesn't seem to be going anywhere. What are these people to do? I would have all of these children serve in the military if they want to stay here or be involved in some sort of domestic service.

    June 15, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. sondrad1

    Some may say that his move on Amnesty for these subset of ILLEGAL immigrants was necessary, as the DREAM Act was held up by the hyper partisanship and grid lock caused by passionately held beliefs of opposing parties. Heck, thats how the US of A were founded! So its not new and its not original and it certainly is not an excuse nor a reason for a sitting President to 'pull rank, such as he did today'. If he cannot work within the same system all other Presidents have worked within, then he is not right for the position. This is about Illegal Immigrants, not Legal ones, so for all the other posters arguing about my relatives and yours, the argument is irrelevant. Additionally, this is about parity for legal immigrants and the ones following the rules we set forth, which leads me to the final comment which is this is about enforcing the laws the American People have made – not creating new policies that one man thinks is right, regardless of how many people he may have 'heard' from. Running the country is a job, not a popularity contest and our laws and governance have processes and policy set forth for our protection.

    June 15, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. marieee

    Of course he will find something negative to say at the same time being careful not to offend the hispanics

    June 15, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. Jim970

    Romney is correct. If we ignore our own immigration laws, we basically open this country up for any and all. Worse yet. If we do not enforce our own laws, what good are laws? Should we stop enforcing laws against robbery? Why not? What about murder? The laws of this nation must be enforced or there is no law at all.

    June 15, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  9. Rani McBride

    Time for the Media to insist on specifics from the Republican nominee. He cannot just continue to critisize ALL the President's policies and offer no details to what he would do. When do you think he will give us some specifics? Can anyone tell me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Innkahoots

    Once again the republicans and there supporters, cant come up with a good idea of there own. Still playing follow the leader aren't you?

    June 15, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Edward

    The trick here is that it won't be reversed. What president wants to be the one to reverse it?

    June 15, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. tonyl

    Romney is a ultimate top of the line FLIP FLOPPER. If there is honest reporting then they need to run his statement during the primaries about how this etch a sketch politician/businessman was against the Hispanics and the so called dream act. Now he wants to move to the middle so talk about a long term fix. Shame on you!!!

    June 15, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  13. rob

    Romney sounds reasonable, he wants to look at the whole long term problem. Instead of grandstanding for political points and defying the Legislative branch of our govt like the president did today Romney would bring sensable solutions to the table and work with the Congress to build concensus around a bill that might work.

    June 15, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  14. 2012liberal

    Just read mccain not being on message w citizens united. It better b and stay on every media program 4 a week like pres clinton and mayor boker were!

    June 15, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. tonyl

    When you are dealing with a "do nothing congress" then you have no choice but to take action when necessary.

    June 15, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. ryan

    Romeny has zero policy solutions. He is all but trying to sleepwalk through this campaign hoping for the economy to fail in order to bolster his election odds. It's pathetic.

    June 15, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. Jason

    How does this cheapshot affect the economy? Why not work on your promises Obama?
    Stop tax breaks to companies offshoring jobs
    Stop the tax welfare to oil companies
    Add VAT to Chinese goods
    Declare teaparty as a dangerous terrorist organization
    Prosecute the Bush-cheney war crimes
    We have an illegal employer problem. Jail people like Robmey that hire illegals

    June 15, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. kakaraka

    My Anti-Immigrant Romoney, the long term solution is the DREAM act you wanted to veto. The President keeps asking the Congres to pass it. It you GOP tea bagers republicans refuse again, this temporary fix will go on until the Congres pass it. The question is: do you give credit to the President or not? I doubt so.

    June 15, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. rosethornne

    Will the real Flip Romney please stand up

    June 15, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Jules

    Sure it makes things harder for Romney. He has to oppose it or support it. Is he going to repeal it if he is president? Will he have the guts to actually say what he stands for once?

    June 15, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Willie James

    This guy is a pandering fool. One of these days the GOP will get off it's collective dead butt and help in governing this country. As far as I can tell, conservatives are traitors.

    June 15, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. sempdog

    Too bad Romney won't be around for any long term fixes of anything.

    June 15, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. kakaraka

    So Romoney wait 5 good hours before giving his insight to the President announcement? What a undecisive leader he is? I remember the President was speaking yesterday in Ohio and he was cricling the President with a bus and honking but wait to long to react to a good news. He just doesn't like it but the hispanics do.

    June 15, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    King Obama has spoken!! forget congress! forget the rule of law! forget all the imigrants that are doing it the right way! OBAMA NEEDS VOTES!!! even votes of non US citizens (no ID means they can vote too!) and you libs though Bush was bad.....he's just making up the rules as he goes......remember this when the GOP gets back in power you hacks!!

    June 15, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Foreverwar

    He really should just keep practicing his concession speech for his 2012 election loss.

    June 15, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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