Romney tries to woo Hispanic voters with ‘long-term’ immigration reform

SOURCE: naleo.org

A week after President Barack Obama announced an executive order to stop deporting children of illegal immigrants, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney outlined his long-term immigration policy in an effort to shore up support among Latino voters. 

Mitt Romney addressing the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials on June 21, 2012. SOURCE: naleo.org

Read more: Obama announces new policy to cease deportation of children of undocumented immigrants 

Speaking at the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, Romney called for tougher border security to stop illegal immigration as well as “common-sense” reforms to reduce bureaucratic red tape to encourage legal immigration.

“I am going to address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil and resolute manner,” said Romney. “We may not always agree but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it.”

Romney’s immigration policy would:

  • add more border patrol agents
  • complete a high-tech fence along the U.S.-Mexico border
  • create a system to make sure that people with temporary visas leave the country and don’t over-stay
  • prioritize family members of U.S. citizens for green cards
  • eliminate the immigration cap for spouses and minor children of legal permanent U.S. residents
  • grant green cards to immigrants who earn an advanced degree in the U.S.
  • allow “a path to legal status” for immigrants who serve in the U.S. military

In addition, Romney said he would put in place a strong employment verification system to prevent businesses from hiring undocumented workers.

“We can find common ground here, and we’ve got to,” said Romney. “We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains the land of opportunity both for those who are born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws, and want to come to our shores.”

Romney & Obama trade jabs over DREAM Act

In his remarks, Romney also attacked the President’s executive order to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children.

He stopped short of accusing the President of pandering to Latino voters, questioning the timing of Obama’s policy change.

“He failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote,” said Romney. “I think you deserve better.”

Although Romney was quite forceful in criticizing Obama’s motives, he was less clear about whether he would allow the executive order to stand if he were to win the Presidency. Romney responded that he would put in place his own long-term immigration policies.

Seizing on Romney’s ambiguous answer, Obama challenged Romney to support the DREAM Act, a Bush-era bipartisan legislation that would stop the deportation of children of undocumented immigrants and allow them to apply for permanent residency if they earn a college degree.

“[Romney] said that when he makes a promise to you, he’ll keep it. Well, he has promised to veto the DREAM Act, and we should take him at his word,” said Obama, who spoke at the NALEO conference the following day. “And I believe that would be a tragic mistake.”

Rebutting Romney’s criticisms, Obama reiterated that he is willing to work members of both parties to develop long-term immigration reforms.

“My door has been open for three-and-a-half years. They know where to find me,” Obama said.   “I’m still willing to work with anyone from either party who is committed to real reform.”

 

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