Mitt Romney has come out against President Obama's executive order deferring deportation for some young illegal immigrants. But in an interview with the Denver Post, he promised not to deport those who have already received temporary visas.
"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. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased," Romney told the paper. "Before those visas have expired we will have the full immigration reform plan that I've proposed."
Obama's executive order gives some illegal immigrants who came to the country as children a two-year reprieve from deportation and the chance to apply for a work permit.
“Romney’s latest immigration pivot raises more questions than it answers," said Gabriela Domenzain, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign. "What would he do with those who qualify for deferred action but haven’t received it? Would he deport those who have received a deferment when the program expires after two years?"
The Romney campaign told the Boston Globe that the candidate would not grant new deportation exemptions once the ones granted by Obama expired.
After taking a hard line on immigration in the Republican primaries, Romney has softened his stance, promising to loosen some restrictions on foreign workers.
Romney has repeatedly said that his plan isn't to "round people up" and "deport people." Instead, he said at one January debate would encourage "self-deportation" by making it harder for illegal immigrants to find work. In a recent Univision interview, he defined that policy as letting "People make their own choices as to whether they want to go hom."
But beyond that, the candidate has not said what he would do about the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country. He has said he would veto the DREAM Act, legislation that would create a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrant students and members of the military.
About a fifth of Colorado's population is Hispanic; 13 percent of eligible voters in the battleground state are Latino. Romney has consistently placed far behind the president in polls of Hispanic voters.