By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Mitt Romney said today he'll put in place his own plan that would "supersede" a recently imposed Obama administration order that halts the deportation of some illegal immigrants brought to the USA as children.
In his first extended remarks since Obama's order last week, Romney outlined his ideas on immigration and tied them to his proposals on the economy. The presumptive GOP nominee made his remarks in a speech to NALEO, a group of Hispanic elected and appointed officials, in Orlando.
"Some people have asked if I will let stand the president's executive action. The answer is that I will build my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure," Romney said.
Last week, President Obama issued an executive order that would halt the deportations of up to 800,000 illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
Romney at that time criticized Obama's action as a political move, designed to gin up support in an election year with Latino voters -- a key bloc in swing states such as Colorado. He and other Republicans also criticized the order because it bypassed Congress, which tried but failed to pass legislation known as the DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act would grant legal status to some illegal immigrants who were brought to the USA as children, as long as they have completed high school and either attended college or served in the military.
The Obama order does not grant legal status as the DREAM Act proposed to do. Instead, the Obama order halts deportation proceedings for two years and allows these illegal immigrants to apply for a work permit.
Romney also says he'll work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to find a "long-term solution" to the nation's immigration and border security issues.
He vowed to overhaul the system that grants green cards on a first-come, first served basis and stressed ways to keep families together. Romney also promised to end the caps now in place for spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents.
"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," he said.
Romney was applauded when he talked of granting legal status to illegal immigrants who serve in the armed forces. As he closed, he took what could be perceived as an unveiled swipe at Obama, noting that Hispanic unemployment is currently at 11%.
Obama will speak to NALEO tomorrow. USA TODAY's Jackie Kucinich will have more on Romney's speech in Friday's editions.