Hours after the Obama administration announced that it would stop deporting some young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, Mitt Romney suggested that the president was merely seeking a political advantage to secure a second term.
“It’s unfortunate that this sort of thing comes up four and half months before the election,” the presumed Republican nominee told New Hampshire’s largest television station, WMUR-9, in an interview Friday. “The president’s been in office three and a half years. He had both houses of Congress and did nothing in his first two years with them.”
During that time, President Obama “had a chance to deal with immigration reform and with issues such as those relating to kids who came here with parents through no fault of their own,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “He didn’t deal with it at a time when he had the ability to put in place a long-term solution, and now he’s putting in place a little stop-gap idea.”
Romney added that Americans “are looking for a long-term solution, not something that’s temporary through an executive order” and said he would “look to finally have a piece of legislation that resolves this so that people know what their status will be long-term.”
After months of hard-line rhetoric on illegal immigration during the primary campaign, Romney has struggled to find his footing on immigration policy, which has hampered his efforts to win over Latino voters.
He told WMUR on Friday that he had a plan for dealing with illegal immigration, but only mentioned his proposals to raise visa caps for highly skilled workers and to grant permanent residency to certain graduates with advanced degrees in math, science and engineering.
In a booklet detailing his jobs plans that he released earlier in the campaign, Romney argued that those students could help fill the acute shortage of highly skilled workers that the U.S. is facing.
Beyond those measures Romney has said he would focus on improving employment verification systems, enforcing the law and securing the border by completing a high-tech fence and providing a sufficient number of border patrol agents. He has also talked about turning off “magnets” that lure illegal immigrants to the U.S. (As governor of Massachusetts he vetoed legislation that would have granted in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants, and he did not support driver’s licenses for undocumented workers.)
Though Romney has insisted that he would not allow illegal immigrants to “cut the line,” he has not explained in detail his plans for dealing with the 11 million such people in this country.