Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is in Iowa campaigning for Tuesday’s caucuses, pledged to veto the DREAM Act, which would help children of undocumented immigrants gain citizenship if they attend college or serve in the military.
It was perhaps the first time former Massachusetts Gov. Romney explicitly promised to veto a congressionally-backed measure.
On Saturday, Romney replied to a question from the audience at The Family Table in Le Mars, saying, “The question is, if I were elected and Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, would I veto it, and the answer is yes.”
However, Romney clarified that he supported a path to residency, and not citizenship, for those who served in the military. “I’m delighted with the idea that people who come to this country and wish to serve in the military can be given a path to become permanent residents of this country,” CNN quoted him as saying.
The Democratic National Committee responded to Romney’s vow, saying he had shown “once again that he is out of touch and far to the right of even members of his own party, and that he would not represent the best interest of middle class Americans, those still trying to reach the middle class, and Hispanics in the country.”
The DNC held a press conference in Des Moines, Sunday evening, and also charged that the company Romney once headed, private-equity firm Bain Capital, was responsible for layoffs. The DNC featured Randy Johnson, a former factory worker at American Pad and Paper in Marion, Ind., which Bain Capital bought in 1994, according to Wall Street Journal.
Conservatives had earlier disapproved of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s support for Texas legislation granting in-state tuition for the children of some illegal immigrants. Romney alluded to Perry on Saturday: “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,” he was quoted as saying.
However, since support from Hispanics is crucial for Democrats as well as Republicans in the 2012 race, Romney may prove to be an easy target for President Barack Obama, who backs the DREAM Act as one of his efforts to reform the U.S. immigration system.
Democrats in California enacted the DREAM Act, providing illegal immigrant students access to private college scholarships for state schools, in July 2011. A month later, Illinois authorized a privately-funded scholarship plan for children of all immigrants, including those who are illegal.
But in December 2010, Republicans blocked Democrats from pushing a version of the bill in the U.S. Senate.