A week after President Barack Obama announced his plan to stop deporting some young illegal immigrants, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his own plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
In a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials today, Romney will outline his plans for reforming the legal immigration process, while discouraging illegal immigrants from crossing the border.
In his remarks, Romney will criticize Obama for waiting until an election year to take action on deporting young illegal immigrants when he could have taken the same action on his first day in office.
"Some people have asked if I will let stand the President's executive action," Romney will say. "The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President's temporary measure."
Romney's plan embraces the military service component of the DREAM ACT, but is silent on specifics about young illegal immigrants covered by the Obama announcement.
Excerpt from Romney's speech:
For two years, this President had huge majorities in the House and Senate – he was free to pursue any policy he pleased. But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote.
Last week, the President finally offered a temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election. After three and a half years of putting every issue from loan guarantees for his donors to Cash For Clunkers before immigration, now the President has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on Day One. I think you deserve better.
Some people have asked if I will let stand the President's executive action. The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President's temporary measure.
As President, I won’t settle for a stop-gap measure. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution. I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it.
MITT ROMNEY’S STRATEGY FOR BIPARTISAN & LONG-TERM IMMIGRATION REFORM
A National Immigration Strategy
As president, Mitt Romney will implement a national immigration strategy to address our nation’s broken immigration system. He will reach across the aisle and work with Congress to forge lasting solutions.
Grow Our Economy By Growing Legal Immigration
The United States is currently excluding too many workers who will start businesses, create jobs, foster innovation, and help grow our economy.
Attract More Highly Skilled Immigrants:
· High-skill immigrants start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at an especially high rate. The United States is also projected to face a shortage of 230,000 science and technology workers by 2018. At the same time, we have set the caps on high-skill visas so low that, for some countries, an entire year’s quota has been filled in an hour. Mitt Romney will ask Congress to raise the caps on visas for highly skilled immigrants.
· Many country caps—or limits on immigrants from specific countries—are so low, that America is losing some of the best and brightest to our international competitors. Mitt Romney will work with Congress to raise the country caps.
· America should keep the best and the brightest here in the United States. Every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a U.S. university should be granted permanent residency.
Make The Temporary Worker Visa System Functional:
Too often, harvest or tourist season passes before temporary worker visas are approved. In 2006 and 2007, nearly half (43%) of all applications for temporary agricultural workers were not processed on time.
· As president, Mitt Romney will make the system for bringing in temporary agricultural workers and other seasonal workers functional for both employers and immigrants. We should get rid of unnecessary requirements that delay issuance of a visa, and we should speed the processing of applications.
· Mitt Romney will work with Congress, states, and employers to properly set the cap on non-agricultural temporary worker visas. Many tourist-oriented businesses in the United States rely on these workers and would have to cut back or cease operations if there are not enough visas.
Secure Our Borders & Discourage Illegal Immigration
According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, Border Patrol lacks control of over half of our southwest border. And some estimates indicate that over 40% of illegal immigrants in America entered the country legally, but then overstayed their visas.
· Mitt Romney will complete a high-tech fence to enhance border security.
· Mitt Romney will ensure that we have the officers on the ground we need to gain control of the border.
· A Romney Administration will work to develop an efficient, effective system of exit verification to ensure people do not overstay their visas.
· Mitt Romney will develop an effective, mandatory employment verification system that will enable employers to be sure that those they hire are eligible to work. This will discourage illegal immigrants from coming to America to seek jobs.
· Mitt Romney will foster a legal immigration system that works. This will offer an alternative to those who would otherwise enter illegally. For instance, reforming our current temporary worker program will offer employers who need such staff a legal option to find employees.
Cut Red Tape That Is Keeping Immediate Families Apart
Currently, legal immigrants in America often have to wait years to be with husbands, wives, and minor children. As president, Mitt Romney will ensure that husbands, wives, and their minor children are brought together on a timely basis.
· Mitt Romney will speed the processing of applications by eliminating the red tape that is keeping immediate families apart.
· Mitt Romney will work with Congress to give legal permanent residents the same priority as citizens when applying to bring husbands, wives, and minor children to the United States.
· Mitt Romney will reallocate green cards to family of citizens and legal permanent residents.
Mitt Romney believes that young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children should have the chance to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, by serving honorably in the United States military.
Recognize That Ending Illegal Immigration Is A Humanitarian Issue
Studies show that up to 95% of illegal immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border are brought here by “coyotes.” Unfortunately, these coyotes often abuse the people who hire them. Securing our borders and discouraging illegal immigration will dry up demand for coyotes and dry up the coyote market.