03 April 2012

Romney attacks Obama's US immigration policies

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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has taken a swipe at President Obama's US immigration policy by accusing him of reneging on his election promise.

US immigration

Mitt Romney's conservative policies have raised doubts that he can appeal to Hispanic voters.

President Obama made reforming the US immigration system a cornerstone of his election campaign but so far has failed to live up to expectations. Despite promising a much fairer and more charitable system, the Obama administration has deported record numbers of illegal immigrants in recent years.

Speaking at a Wisconsin town hall, Mr Romney said that President Obama had failed in his immigration reform and, if he is elected president, he would provide a US visa to anyone with an advanced college degree.

Mr Romney said that current policy discouraged skilled workers and educated migrants to stay in the country while often allowing illegal immigrants to remain indefinitely, a policy he labelled as 'upside down'.

"My own view is our immigration policies are upside down. We make it very hard for people who have skills that we need - education and English speaking and workplace skills - make it very hard for those people to come here and to stay here," said Mr Romney.

"On the other hand, those that don't have any of those things are often times able to come either across the border over-stay their visas and remain in this country indefinitely. So we've got it backwards.

Mr Romney said he would 'staple a green card to their diploma' for any migrants graduating from American universities with master's degrees or PHDs.

The former Massachusetts governor has previously laid out one of the most conservative platforms on immigration and doubts remain as to his ability to appeal to Hispanic voters, who are seen as a crucial demographic in the race for the White House.

He has previously said he would veto the DREAM Act, which provides a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, as well as proposing a policy of 'self-deportation' where illegal immigrants are encouraged to leave the country and has supported the controversial and strict immigration law currently under challenge in Arizona, labelling it a 'model' for US immigration law.

However, President Obama's failure to deliver on his election promise has given Mr Romney's campaign the ammunition to take a stand on immigration.

"[President Obama] campaigned saying he was going to reform immigration laws and simplify and protect the border and so forth, and then he had two years with a Democrat House [of Representatives] and Democrat Senate and a super majority in each House, and he did nothing.

"So let the immigrant community not forget that while he uses this as a political weapon, he does not take responsibility for fixing the problems we have."

A spokesperson for President Obama's re-election campaign rejected Mr Romney's claims, saying:

"Mitt Romney's attempt to Etch A Sketch his record on immigration has begun. But his extreme positions on immigration can't be erased. He has campaigned with the nation's leading anti-immigrant voices, promised to veto the DREAM Act, and wants to encourage all undocumented immigrants to self-deport.

"He would have the most extreme immigration platform of any presidential nominee in recent history."

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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