Following President Obama’s announcement on Friday that immigration officials would stop deporting DREAM Act-eligible students, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Obama for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but has repeatedly refused to say if he would repeal the measure.
On Monday morning, Romney surrogate Tim Pawlenty tried to create additional breathing room for the former Massachusetts governor. During an appearance on CNN’s Starting Point, Pawlenty sought to dismiss Romney’s promise to veto DREAM, suggesting that he may ultimately sign the measure if elected president:
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN (HOST): As I’m sure you know, Mitt Romney said that if he were elected he would veto the DREAM Act, right?
PAWLENTY: There are a lot of things labeled the DREAM Act, Soledad, so we have to be careful. What Governor Romney has said is when it comes to Senator Rubio’s ideas about the DREAM Act that he would be open to that. That legislation hasn’t been put in final form yet but he said he would consider it or at least look at it. He has said in other settings and times he would be willing to allow a pathway to legal status for children no are in this situation. For example, if they serve in the military and are honorably discharged. As it relates to the issue of children and through no fault of their own are under that circumstance, he said I’m open to try to explore or consider a permanent solution and I think these a reasonable gesture on his part.
In reality, Romney was far more dismissive of efforts to help undocumented students during the GOP presidential primary. “For those who come here illegally, the idea of giving them in-state tuition credits or other special benefits I find to be contrary to the idea of a nation of law,” Romney told a crowd in Iowa in December and flatly promised to veto DREAM.
His views shifted in April, however, when he expressed support for the DREAM Act, saying the Republicans need to propose a GOP version of the bill and other initiatives to win support from Hispanic voters.
But given Obama’s announcement last week, that GOP alternative — which is supposedly being drafted by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and is remarkably similar to the White House policy — may fail to materialize, leaving Romney floundering for a position on the issue.