Romney and Obama clash on immigration

October 16, 2012

In what has been a lively debate full of clashes, one of the biggest has been over immigration. The question, asked by Lorraine Osorio, went first to Mitt Romney.

"What I will do is I’ll put in place an employment verification system and make sure that employers that hire people who have come here illegally are sanctioned for doing so," Romney said. "I won’t put in place magnets for people coming here illegally. So for instance, I would not give driver’s licenses to those that have come here illegally as the president would."

He added, "The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident," Romney said. "Now, when the president ran for office, he said that he’d put in place, in his first year, a piece of legislation -- he’d file a bill in his first year that would reform our -- our immigration system, protect legal immigration, stop illegal immigration. He didn't do it." More on that here.

Obama, who this year put into place a policy that gives illegal immigrants under the age of 30 legal residency, challenged Romney on his pledge to help children who came to the country illegally. "Now, Governor Romney just said that, you know, he wants to help those young people, too," Obama said. "But during the Republican primary, he said, I will veto the DREAM Act that would allow these young people to have access. His main strategy during the Republican primary was to say, we’re going to encourage self-deportation, making life so miserable on folks that they’ll leave. He called the Arizona law a model for the nation. Part of the Arizona law said that law enforcement officers could stop folks because they suspected maybe they looked like they might be undocumented workers and checked their papers." 

Romney referred to Arizona's E-Verify policy as a model, not the controversial policy Obama described.

Krissah Thompson began writing for The Washington Post in 2001. She has covered local businesses, traveled to El Salvador and Guatemala to tell stories of immigrants’ connections to their home countries and reported from the newsroom’s Prince George’s County bureau. More recently, she has written about civil rights, race and politics.
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Melissa Bell · October 16, 2012