ASTON, Pa. – If Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has an opinion on Sen. Marco Rubio’s scaled-back version of the DREAM Act, he’s not willing to share it just yet.
The act would grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were under the age of 16 when they were brought to the United States; hold a high school diploma; and have completed two years of college or military service.
“(Rubio) and I have spoken about his thinking on his version of a different act than the DREAM Act that’s been proposed in the Senate,” Romney told reporters here at a press availability ahead of his first joint event with Rubio, the GOP rising star and freshman senator from Florida. “The one that’s been proposed in the Senate creates a new category of citizenship for certain individuals. The senator’s proposal does not create that new category but instead provides visas for those that have come into the country that came in as young people with their families.”
“I’m taking a look at his proposal; it has many features to commend it but its something that we’re studying,” Romney added.
Late last year, Romney pledged to veto the full DREAM Act if it came across his desk as president.
Rubio’s office has been working on a GOP alternative to the DREAM Act; so far, Romney’s campaign has maintained that the former Massachusetts governor is still “studying” the proposal and has yet to weigh in on it.
The DREAM Act, first introduced more than a decade ago by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), fell short of passage on a 55-to-41 vote when it was last brought up in the Senate in December 2010. It has re-entered the political spotlight during the 2012 campaign as Romney and President Obama work to woo Latino voters, who comprise an increasing share of the electorate.
In response to another reporter’s question Monday about his views on illegal immigration and a pathway to citizenship, Romney answered that he would further lay out his views as the November election approaches.
“You know, I anticipate before the November election we’ll be laying out whole series of policies that relate to immigration,” Romney said. “And obviously, our first priority is to secure the border, and yet we also have very substantial visa programs in this country. I’ve spoken about the need to have a visa system that’s right-sized for the needs of our employment community. And so, how we adjust our visa program to make it fit the needs of our country is something I’ll be speaking about down the road.”
Romney did, however, weigh in when asked by a French TV reporter about his experiences in that country. Romney served as a Mormon missionary in France and has gone back for vacations with his family – a point that he noted in his answer and one that brought him some criticism from Democrats, who cast the answer as the latest instance of Romney being out-of-touch with everyday Americans.
“I have a lot of memories of France,” Romney said in response to the question from France 2 TV correspondent Maryse Burgot. “I think the best memories were with my wife on vacations, from time to time in France. The last vacation we had there, walking around the city of Paris— not just in the Champs-Elysees, but also over to the Jardin of Luxembourg and around the city — as one of the most magnificent cities in the world and I look forward to occasional vacations again in such a beautiful place.”
Romney did not make any mention of his missionary work in his response; he spent two-and-a-half years in the town of Le Havre.