Romney would allow young immigrants granted waivers to stay
October 2nd, 2012
08:56 AM ET
8 years ago

Romney would allow young immigrants granted waivers to stay

(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.

Filed under: 2012 • Immigration • Mitt Romney
soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. Freedom4All

    Our freedom and security are threatened, not with military threat, but economic threat. And I am tired of all the lip services by politicians. I am voting for a presidential candidate who will:

    1/ impose a outsource tariff on products outsource to China and ship back to US for consumption to level the playing field for companies who stay here and help to create jobs here. If necessary, offer long-term tax incentives to companies who invest in America’s modern manufacturing infrastructure to start making products here again so that we can reduce imports and increase exports.

    2/ Eliminate MFN tariff for products from China. MFN was intended to help 3rd world countries to sell their low quality products here at a competitive price. China is no longer in this category now,

    3/ balancing trade by negotiating with all countries we have trade deficit with - They need to buy more American products. We have trade deficit with almost every nation on earth, can we sustain this situation for long??? NO.

    I dont care it is Democrat or Republican, if you really care about the average JOE and the well-being of the country as a whole, your party must already have done the above.

    October 2, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Don

    Let me get this straight. First he said he would back volunteer deportation saying that if they couldn't get work then they would return to their homeland (he must have been thinking of passing strict laws because employers keep hiring them). Then he said he would repeal the dream act. Then he says he would support a true path to citizenship. This man is many things to all but mostly, he is wishy washy!

    October 2, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. EJ

    Another flip-flop....this guy is saying what he thinks might get him a last minute vote and the thing is – if he got into office and he will not, he would flip again on the issues...

    October 2, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  4. skarphace

    What would Romney do after the visas expire? This is what we want to know, and the fact that Romney is staying silent on the matter is quite telling.

    October 2, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. davisba

    This man will say anything to win. He flip flops on everything. Do he really knows what he is standing for. NO! He is nothing but a liar.

    October 2, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. Highly_Amused

    Good ol Mitt and his backbone of jello! What a worthless excuse for a so-called "leader"! Why would ANYONE with an IQ over 10 even THINK about voting for this snake oil salesman? I wouldn't vote for Mitt to be a dog-catcher...

    October 2, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. MissouriBoy

    During the primary, Mitt's #1 immigration talking point was "How high to build the wall". Now, it is about comprehensive immigration reform. I think I see an etch-a-sketch, shift to the middle move. What a surprise. The only real question: Which Mitt is the real Mitt? Obama needs to do a "John Kerry" ad about flip-flopping. And all the conservative Mitt supporters need to really wonder "Does Mitt support kicking the illegals out of the country?"

    October 2, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. skarphace

    Vote: "Christians do not support gay marriage."

    So you speak for all Christians do you?

    Just think about your claim for a second. If all Christians are against gay marriage, then exactly who is marrying them in the first place? The answer to this question contradicts your claim.

    October 2, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. Overlord_Xenu

    This smacks of desperation.

    October 2, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. DE

    Can this master flip-flopper make up his mind about anything?

    October 2, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. 2020

    where has romney been in the last 4 years.

    The Congress blocked the dream act bill by GOP. Is he that ignorant?

    Romney has all the positions pleasing different constitutients, and ended up as a low cost salesman with no spine.

    Sick of it.

    October 2, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Flipped again

    Now hes for letting them stay!! I would not trust him if I WERE illegal,he might be for it today,but once elected then your out on your butt.I can't make heads or tells of what this guy believes.

    October 2, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Leo

    Romney is nothing but a flip-flopper. So when President Obama uses his executive order it's an abuse of his power, but when Romney changes his ideals depending on the crowd his talking to that's allowed by the GOP.

    October 2, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. BD70

    Obama has not done much about illegal immigration for the same reason none of his predecessors have. Amnesty was Bush Jr and all heck broke loose. There is no easy answer to this problem short of sealing the US/Mexico border. That will never happen. It is up to Mexico to fix the problem so their people don't have to come here to earn a living.

    October 2, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. skarphace

    InDenver: "What, did he discover he would lose half his housekeeping staff?"


    October 2, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. 2020

    where has romney been in the last 4 years.

    The Congress blocked the dream act bill by GOP. Is he that ignorant?

    Romney has all the positions pleasing different constitutients, and ended up as a low cost salesman with no spine.

    October 2, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  17. FreedomStorm

    Ωbama.  The great lie ushers in the end.

    October 2, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Martin

    A major break from the Republican party platform on immigration, and a flip flop from his previous "illegal immigrants will be encouraged to self deport" statements from Romney.

    I wonder how long it will be before his campaign manager has to walk back these comments on his behalf?

    October 2, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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