Obama and Romney’s view on immigration

While the economy has been the overarching theme of this election season, the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. have still provoked differing opinions from President Barack Obama and Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Here’s what the two candidates have to say about immigration:

What they said
“It makes no sense to expel talented young people who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans. They’ve been raised as Americans, understand themselves to be part of this country. To expel these young people who want to staff our labs or start new businesses or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents or because of the inactions of politicians — in the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places,” Obama said at a speech addressing immigration in the Rose Garden June 15, 2012.
Make immigration policy more “fair, efficient and just:”


  • As a second-term priority, work with Congress to pass comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform
  • Focus immigration enforcement on those who endanger communities, and de-emphasize low-priority cases like students, veterans, citizens and military families
  • Opposes Arizona’s S.B. 1070 that requires police to check immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion someone is undocumented

“Immigration reform is not just a moral imperative, but an economic necessity as well. Immigrants with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs and drive innovation at a high rate. … We can find common ground here, and we must. We owe it to ourselves as Americans to ensure that our country remains a land of opportunity – both for those who were born here and for those who share our values, respect our laws and want to come to our shores,” Romney said at a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials June 21, 2012.
“Enforce the law, welcome legal immigrants and attract the best and brightest:”

  • Implement immigration strategy to bolster the economy, ensure security, keep nuclear families together and address illegal immigration
  • Grant permanent residency to foreign students who obtain advanced degrees
  • Speed up process of temporary work visas and create an effective mandatory employment verification system

What they did
2010: Urged Congress to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act

    • Failed to advance in the Senate
    • Would have let young people brought to the US as children earn citizenship through military service or higher education

2004: Vetoed a bill offering in-state tuition benefits for undocumented immigrants
2003: Opposed a bill that would grant driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants
2006: Signed a pact with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to give specially trained Massachusetts State Troopers the authority to enforce federal immigration laws