President Obama is calling out Mitt Romney for his opposition to legislation that would help bring young illegal immigrants out of the shadows.
"He has promised to veto the DREAM Act and we should take him at his word," Obama said of his GOP challenger during a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), a leading Hispanic organziation. "I'm just sayin.'"
Obama added: "I believe that would be a tragic mistake."
Obama was speaking a week after announcing that an executive order preventing his administration from deporting young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were 16 or younger and have stayed out of trouble. In today's speech, he defended that move against those who have argued that he should have left the issue to Congress. The president said he too supported a permanent legislative fix, but noted that lawmakers blocked the DREAM Act when it last came up, and urging them to consider it again.
"We should have passed the DREAM Act a long time ago,” Obama said. “It was written my members of both parties. When it came up for a vote year and a half ago, Republicans in Congress blocked it. The bill hadn’t changed. The need had not changed. The only thing that changed was politics—and I refused to keep looking deserving young people in the eye and tell them tough luck.”
On Thursday, Romney delivered his own speech to NALEO, in which he took a noticably softer tone on immigration than he had previously, but again declined to say whether he would repeal Obama's order.