Back in January, Mr. Romney argued for the policy at a GOP debate, describing it as one where ”people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here.”
“We’re not going to round them up,” the former Massachusetts governor added.
When pressed for details on his concept, Romney proposed implementing a system in which the government would issue a card that links to online federal immigration data, so employers will know whether a job-seeker is undocumented.
Those without cards would be pushed out of the job market and forced to leave the country, Romney reasoned.
In front of the Latino lawmakers today however, Mr. Romney instead talked about strengthening legal immigration and said he will solve the illegal immigration in a “civil and resolute manner.”
Among his plans, which represent something of a softening in Mr. Romney’s position:
- more border patrol agents and adding a high-tech border fence
- Reallocating Green Cards to those seeking to keeping families together.
- Updating the temporary worker visa program
- More green cards to residents with college degrees
- A path to legal status to immigrants who serve in the armed forces
“For two years, this President had huge majorities in the House and Senate – he was free to pursue any policy he pleased. But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote,” Mr. Romney said. ”Last week, the President finally offered a temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election. After three and a half years of putting every issue from loan guarantees for his donors to Cash For Clunkers before immigration, now the President has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on Day One. I think you deserve better. “
Hispanics are expected to go overwhelmingly towards Democrats in 2012, but if Mr. Romney is able to peel off a few supporters, it could make the difference in key states like Florida, Colorado and Nevada.
In response to the speech, Obama for America Director of Hispanic Press Gabriela Domenzain slammed Mr. Romney for his stance on the DREAM Act.
“Today, Mitt Romney told the largest national gathering of Hispanic elected officials: ‘When I make a promise to you – I will keep it.’ But in front of an audience of Republican primary voters, he called the DREAM Act a ‘handout’ and promised to veto it. Now, after seven days of refusing to say whether or not he’d repeal the Obama administration’s immigration action that prevents young people who were brought here through no fault of their own as children from being deported, we should take him at his word that he will veto the DREAM Act as president.”
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