Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said young undocumented immigrants who've been granted relief from deportation and received legal work permits would not be deported if he wins the White House.
In an interview with the Denver Post on Monday, Romney said he would not rescind the approvals given to undocumented immigrants under the Obama administration's deferred action policy that has made it possible for as many as 1 million young people whose parents brought them as children to the United States to seek temporary relief from deportation and gain work permits.
Romney, who for more than three months has avoided saying what action, if any, he would take on the policy if elected, told the newspaper that he would honor the "special visa that the president has put in place, which is a two-year visa." He said those immigrants "should expect that the visa would continue to be valid. I'm not going to take something that they've purchased." He went on to say that he would ensure that his "full immigration reform plan" would be in place before those visas expire.
So while he would honor the deferred action approvals already made, would he keep the policy in place for future applicants? That remains murky. Still, Romney's remarks signal a less rigid position on immigration policy than he's previously touted. Perhaps he had the large Latino electorate in Colorado—an important swing state this election—in mind as he answered the question.
The Obama campaign issued a blistering statement in response to Romney's interview with the newspaper. "Romney's latest immigration pivot raises more questions than it answers," said Gabriela Domenzain, the director of Hispanic media for the Obama campaign. "We know he called the DREAM Act a 'handout' and that he promised to veto it—nothing he has said since contradicts this, and we should continue to take him at his word."
The federal DREAM Act—which has been stalled in Congress for years because of staunch Republican opposition in the Senate—would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.
Tens of thousands of eligible immigrants have already applied for deferred action since it took effect in mid-August, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency has begun granting work permits and deportation relief. Eligible applicants must have arrived in the United States before they turned 16, be under the age of 30, and have been living here for five or more years. They also have to demonstrate, among other criteria, that they are currently enrolled in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or be in the military.