Romney on Obama's new DREAM rule: "I'd like to see legislation that deals with this issue"

BuzzFeed notes, correctly, that the most important part here is what he didn’t say.

He continued: “I think the actions that the president took today make it more difficult to reach that kind of long term solution because an executive order, of course, is a short-term matter that can be reversed by subsequent presidents.”…

“I’d like to see legislation that deals with this issue,” Romney said. “And I happen to agree with Marco Rubio, as he said this is an important matter, we have to find a long-term solution.”

He did not respond to questions shouted to him by the press corps about whether he would reverse Obama’s decision.

Some commenters in the other thread grumbled when I said it’s unlikely that President Romney would reverse this order, but Mitt’s not going to alienate the growing Latino demographic by rescinding it when he has a conservative rock star like Rubio to give him political cover on the substance of DREAM with the base. (It’s no coincidence that he mentioned Rubio in his remarks today, just like it’s no coincidence that the White House is very nervous indeed about the vote-shifting potential of Rubio’s DREAM proposal.) He’ll end up saying something like this: “While I disagree with former President Obama’s decision to use a DHS order to impose this policy unilaterally, revoking the order now would cause even more disruption to our broken immigration system. I call on Congress to address this matter urgently by passing a DREAM Act that shows compassion for young illegal immigrants who are here through no fault of their own while strengthening enforcement of our borders to prevent this problem from blah blah blah.”

Could he get away with that? There was a ferocious backlash on the right to comprehensive immigration reform in 2007, but (a) DREAM isn’t as extensive, (b) there was no Senator Rubio at the time to help soften opposition on the right, and (c) conservatives are increasingly aware that they can’t afford entrenched opposition among Latino voters long-term. Granted, you won’t see anything like a heavy GOP majority in Congress voting for this, but you might get enough Republicans to join with Democrats to push it through, especially with Romney (and Rubio, of course) out in front. Speaking of which, here’s Rubio’s statement today:

There is broad support for the idea that we should figure out a way to help kids who are undocumented through no fault of their own, but there is also broad consensus that it should be done in a way that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future. This is a difficult balance to strike, one that this new policy, imposed by executive order, will make harder to achieve in the long run.

Today’s announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short term answer to a long term problem. And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long term one.

He disapproves of the power grab, which risks alienating Republicans who might otherwise have voted yes on his own DREAM proposal, but he seems okay with the policy shift. As for his own eternally gestating bill, the specifics so far are still thin but he did tell CBS in an interview set to air on Sunday that he supports visas for DREAM candidates, not immediate citizenship, and that the class of people who are eligible has to be smaller than in the Democratic versions of DREAM. Good enough to get the bill to President Romney’s desk in 2013? We’ll find out.

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