HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Amid the attacks and countercharges in Tuesday’s debate, Mitt Romney appeared to make some news in saying he will seek to create ways to grant a path to citizenship to younger illegal immigrants brought here as children.
“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,” he said. “And military service, for instance, is
one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent
The Republican presidential nominee had previously
listed the military service option, but had said that was the only
exception he was willing to carve out. His comments in the debate,
though, suggested a much broader policy that could apply to all illegal
immigrant youths, known as Dreamers because they would have qualified
for stalled legislation known as the Dream Act.
been a thorny issue for both candidates, particularly since Hispanic
voters, who are a fast-growing voter demographic, view the issue as
In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama had promised to work on an immigration bill in his first year in the White House, but instead turned his attention to health care and the stimulus.
“He had a Democrat House and Democrat Senate,
supermajority in both houses. Why did he fail to even promote
legislation that would have provided an answer for those that want to
come here legally and for those that are here illegally today?” Mr. Romney said at the debate.
For his part, Mr. Obama said he was having trouble convincing Republicans to join his effort.
He also said Mr. Romney
called Arizona’s tough new law giving police the powers to check
immigration status of those they suspect of being in the country
illegally a “model” for other states. Those checks were upheld by the Supreme Court, though much of the rest of the law was struck down.
had, in fact, said a different Arizona law was a model. That one
requires employers to use an electronic federal system, E-Verify, to
verify their workers. That law was upheld by the Supreme Court.
The president said Mr. Romney
still can’t be trusted on the issue, saying he’d vowed to veto the
Dream Act — a promise the Republican made during the primaries — and
said Mr. Romney called for illegal immigrants to “self-deport.”
Mr. Obama also said Mr. Romney’s “top adviser on immigration” wrote both Arizona laws, so the Republican candidate is tied to them.
That adviser, Kris Kobach, told The Washington Times Tuesday night that Mr. Romney correctly explained self-deportation.
said that we should make it hard for illegal aliens to obtain jobs and
taxpayer-subsidized benefits. If we do so, illegal aliens will leave
of their own accord.
Evidently President Obama thinks that’s a bad idea. Obama is completely out of step with the American public on the immigration issue,” said Mr. Kobach, who is Kansas’ secretary of state.
predict that his statements in the debate will further alienate
independent voters who are concerned about the millions of Americans who
have lost jobs to illegal aliens.”