Obama-Romney: Immigration

Photograph by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A man protests for immigration reform outside Hofstra University prior to the second presidential debate on Oct. 16, 2012 in Hempstead, New York.

What does Mitt Romney plan to do about illegal immigrants in the United States?

“This is a nation of immigrants. We welcome people coming into this country,” Romney said. “We welcome legal immigrants coming to this country.”

“We’re going to have to stop illegal immigration,” he said. “I will not grant amnesty to those who have come here illegally… I won’t put in place magnets for people coming here illegally… I would not give driver’s licenses to those coming here illegally.”

The children of illegal immigrants, he said, could have “a pathway” to citizenship, which could include military service.

President Barack Obama, he said, has done nothing about immigration reform.

“We’re just a few miles away from Ellis Island,” Obama said in the debate at Hofstra University on New York’s Long Island.

Still, he said, “we do have to deal with our border… What I’ve also said is, if we’re going to go after people who are here illegally, we should do it smartly.” That means going after criminals, “gang-bangers,” he said, not college students and hard working people.

Romney said during the Republican Party primaries that he would veto the Dream Act enabling a pathway to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants, Obama said.

“We can fix this system in a comprehensive way,” he said, and “it’s not true” that he hasn’t tried to win legislation. “It’s very hard for Republican members of Congress to support comprehensive immigration if their standard-bearer has said this is something I can’t support.”

“I’m glad you thought I was the standard-bearer four years ago, I wasn’t,” Romney said. He was still “licking” his wounds over his party’s loss to Obama, who pledged to address immigration in his first year, he said.

“I’m not in favor of rounding up people and taking them out of this country,” Romney said.

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