The campaign reactions have begun over the Obama administration's Friday announcement that it will stop deporting eligible young illegal immigrants and would allow them to apply for work permits.
At an ice cream social in Milford, N.H., reporters tried to ask former Gov. Mitt Romney whether he would reverse the president's move if he is elected president. Romney initially did not respond.
According to NBC's Alex Moe, Romney then came back out from the campaign bus and gave this quick statement.
"I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long term basis so they know what their future would be in this country. I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long term solution because an executive order is, of course, just a short term matter. It can be reversed by subsequent presidents. I'd like to see legislation that deals with this issue and I happen to agree with Marco Rubio as he considers this issue. He said that this is an important matter, we have to find a long term solution but the president's action makes reaching a long term solution more difficult. If I'm president, we'll do our very best to have that kind of long term solution that provides certainty and clarity for the people who come into this country through no fault of their own by virtue of the actions of their parents."
For his part, Rubio released a statement today saying "we should figure out a way to help kids who are undocumented through no fault of their own, but there is also broad consensus that it should be done in a way that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future... Today’s announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short term answer to a long term problem. And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long term one.”
However, Rubio's purported version of the DREAM Act will produce a similar result as this new administration policy. A Rubio spokesperson even told CBS' Norah O'Donnell that both Rubio's version of the DREAM Act and the president's announcement today will achieve similar policy goals.
Since revealing he was working on legislation about three months ago, Rubio's version of the DREAM Act has been anticipated by immigration groups. While there have been few specifics, Rubio has called for creating nonimmigrant visas for some children of illegal immigrants who have completed high school and are in college. Like the new Obama administration policy, Rubio's proposal does not create a special pathway to citizenship, which critics view as amnesty.
One way candidate Romney could provide "certainty and clarity" to DREAM-ers would be to support the new Obama administration policy and reassure those who are stepping out of the shadows that if elected president, he won't rescind the policy.
The Obama campaign issued this response today to Romney's statement.
"During the primaries, Governor Romney called the DREAM Act a handout and said he would veto it. His 'solution' to our immigration challenges was self-deportation. Today he continues to refuse to express support for legislation that lets children who were brought to the U.S. and want to contribute by pursuing higher education or serve in the military stay in America. The President remains committed to passing the DREAM Act, which was drafted with bipartisan support, but he won't sit back and allow these children to get deported in the face of inaction. Congressional Republicans must end their continued obstruction to allow us to achieve the ultimate goal of signing the DREAM Act into law."