BRUNSWICK, Ohio – Mitt Romney criticized President Obama’s decison to stop deporting some illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children as an election-year political move, but he repeatedly declined in an interview Sunday to lay out an alternative plan.
Making his first extensive comments about immigration policy since Obama’s announcement Friday, the presumptive Republican nominee said that if he were elected president he would seek a permanent “long-term solution” regarding the citizenship status of immigrant kids who go on to be law-abiding residents.
Romney criticized Obama’s policy as a “stop-gap measure,” but he did not say what his alternative solution would entail, other than to provide permanent residency to those who serve in the military.
“With regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is,” Romney said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” which was taped Saturday afternoon for broadcast Sunday morning.
When anchor Bob Schieffer asked Romney whether he would repeal Obama’s policy, he said: “Well, it would be overtaken by events, if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution, with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals such that they know what their setting is going to be, not just for the term of a president but on a permanent basis.”
Obama’s move on immigration presents a challenge to Romney, who is trying to narrow Obama’s lead among Latino voters. During the GOP primaries, Romney used hot rhetoric and took strongly conservative positions on immigration, including opposing so-called Dream Act legislation to provide a path for young immigrants who were brought to attain citizenship.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, suggested Obama’s decision was motivated by politics, not policy.
“If he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn’t. He saves these sort of things until four- and-a-half months before the general election,” Romney said. Campaign politics, he added, was “certainly a big part of the equation.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been trying to draft compromise legislation on young immigrants, but Romney largely has been standoffish, declining to take a position on the outlines as described by Rubio