ABC News’ Michael Falcone, Emily Friedman, and Shushannah Walshe:
MILFORD, N.H. – Mitt Romney opened the door to a new stance on illegal immigration Friday, saying he agreedwith Marco Rubio’s criticism of the president’s decision not to deport the children of illegal immigrants.
Rubio is also in the midst of writing a proposal that would help the children of illegal immigrants stay in the U.S.
But Romney campaign aides said the candidate was not yet endorsing Rubio’s approach.
Romney took issue with President Obama’s decision to halt the deportation several hundred thousand young illegal immigrants, saying that the administration’s policy shift “makes reaching a long-term solution more difficult.”
“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,” Romney said. “I think the action 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.”
Rubio is still working on his version of the DREAM Act.
“I’d like to see legislation that deals with this issue. I happen to agree with Marco Rubio as he considered this issue,” Romney said. “He said that this is an important matter and we have to find a long term solution that provides certainty and clarity to the people who come into this country through no fault of their own by virtue of the action of their parents.”
Those comments are evidence of an evolution on the part of the presumptive Republican nominee. Just a few months ago in a joint press conference with the Florida Senator during a campaign stop in Aston, PA on April 23, Romney said he was still “studying” Rubio’s plan.
“He and I have spoken about his thinking of his version of a different act than the Dream Act that’s been proposed in the Senate,” Romney said. ”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, uh, that 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 it’s something that we’re studying.”
Rubio’s version of the DREAM Act is not legislation yet and is still being developed, but Romney is clearly considering the approach. This is controversial with many members of the GOP because they are opposed to any sort of legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
When reporters pressed Romney to answer whether he would reverse the policy if elected, Romney declined to answer and instead turned and walked back onto his campaign bus. Romney made the comments after an ice cream social he held in the small southern New Hampshire town of Milford — the second stop on his five-day, six-state bus tour.
Just before his statement he sat down with ABC News’ New Hampshire affiliate WMUR and he again aligned himself with Marco Rubio saying the Florida senator looked at President Obama’s new measure and said, “Look we all agree and we have to find a solution to help those kids who came here through no fault of their own. At the same time, people looking for a long term solution, not something temporary through an executive order and I would look to finally have a piece of legislation that resolves this so that people know what their status will be long term.”
“I can also tell you that I think..it’s unfortunate that this sort of thing comes up, uh, four and a half months before the election,” Romney told WMUR reporter Josh McElveen. “The President’s been in office 3 and a half years. He had both houses of Congress…did nothing in his first two years with them. And of course this comes up at a time , it’s a temporary measure. We really need something that’s long term so people can understand what the future will be for them.”
Romney was asked if he thinks this is more about politics than real immigration reform and Romney said Obama had “a chance to deal with immigration reform and with issues such as those related to kids that came here with parents through no fault of their own” and he did not.
“He didn’t deal with it at a time when he had the ability to put into place say long term solutions,” Romney said. “And now he’s putting into place a stop gap idea and uh, we’ll see how that works out but my guess is what we really need to have if I’m president, is a long term solution to this and other issues that relate to immigration.”
Romney said his plan would allow “those that come to this country and get a higher degree would be eligible for a green card.”